green shopping bag

Green Friday: why Stylist is supporting a more sustainable approach to shopping

Rather than getting drawn into the unconsidered consumerism of Black Friday, Stylist is encouraging our readers to shop thoughtfully and sustainably this weekend. Here’s why. 

If you’ve ever boasted about finding a Miu Miu jumper on eBay for £50 or felt smug after snapping up a cut-price Drunk Elephant serum in a flash sale, you’ll know that it’s hard not to love a discount. Getting something for less than its original price can be thrilling – to the extent that some addiction experts, neuroscientists and psychologists compare the rush of snagging a bargain to the high of taking drugs.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that in just seven years, Black Friday has become wildly popular in the UK. The cut-price shopping extravaganza is now so embedded in the British retail calendar that it’s easy to forget it only began to pick up steam on these shores in 2013, when US supermarket giant Walmart introduced Black Friday deals in Asda stores (cue scenes of people fighting over TVs in car parks). This year, thousands of brands in the UK are offering discounts between Black Friday on 27 November and Cyber Monday on 30 November, and a deluge of marketing has made the sales’ presence near-impossible to ignore. The percentage of transactions made online this Black Friday is expected to be the highest ever, according to new research from Lloyds Bank, with consumers predicted to spend over £750m.

But while Black Friday might be ubiquitous, it’s not mandatory – and some brands have started to reject it. This year, rather than offering discounts, the sustainably-minded womenswear brand Baukjen is donating all profits over the four-day Black Friday weekend to Centrepoint, The Trussell Trust, Papyrus and The Prince’s Trust. Eco-friendly footwear label Allbirds is raising the price of all its items by £1 on Black Friday, a customer donation the brand will match and give directly to the Fridays For Future climate movement founded by Greta Thunberg. Cult east London skincare brand Montamonta isn’t lowering its prices, but is donating 10% of all online revenue between 26 November and 1 December to food charity The Felix Project. Not all consumers are likely to be drawn in, either: recent research by PwC puts the percentage of the UK population interested in Black Friday at just 38%.

Part of this is likely down to an increasing savviness about the fact that if a discount seems too good to be true, it probably is. The coronavirus pandemic has also influenced our attitude towards shopping. This year has driven home the importance of looking out for one another – whether that means wearing a mask, collecting donations for your local food bank or staying home to protect the NHS – and we increasingly want to spend our money with brands that share our values and engage in “conscious consumption”, according to a report by Accenture.

loveness lee earrings
Sustainable jewellery brand Loveness Lee gets the Stylist seal of approval

Supporting indie businesses and encouraging thoughtful shopping has always been part of Stylist’s DNA, from the iconic recommendations in The Style List and the Stylist Loves email to the curated edit of small brands in our new platform The Drop. And if we want to be conscious consumers, we have to be aware of the environmental impact of Black Friday. The vast majority (85%) of adults in Britain are now worried about global warming, with 55% of women describing themselves as “deeply concerned”. It’s hard to square this legitimate eco-anxiety with the unchecked consumerism encouraged by the November sales (a report by the thinktank Green Alliance found that up to 80% of items bought over the weekend, as well as plastic packaging, will end up in landfill, incineration or low-quality recycling after a very short life). If we’re serious about reducing our individual impact on the planet, we have to reflect on how, when and where we spend our money.

And so this year, Stylist is championing Green Friday – a celebration of brands that are doing their bit for the environment in 2020 and beyond. Below, you’ll find our edits of items from brands that put sustainability at the heart of what they do, from the Cornish company that transforms old fishing nets into sculptural vases to the new unisex knitwear label that works entirely with waste yarn. These companies haven’t won our seal of approval because they’re offering deep Black Friday discounts; instead, we think they’re worth investing in all year round.

Green purchasing alone won’t solve the climate crisis, and if we’re going to reduce humanity’s impact on the planet, we all need to buy less. That means thinking about whether we really need something – and if it’s not a question of need, interrogating how much a purchase will really improve our lives.

But when we do shop, we want to spend with businesses that share our values and vision for a more eco-friendly world. We hope the edits below will help you do the same. Happy Green Friday.

Images: Getty; Loveness Lee