A More Mindful Black Friday: the Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Gift-Giving Guide
Posted by : Ashley Southard /
Do you know the origin of Black Friday?Common myth contends that the name originated from stores’ sales graphs: because so many sales were made the day after Thanksgiving, stores were “in the black” (profitable) instead of “in the red.”
But the origin story of the term “Black Friday” isn’t so rosy: on September 24, 1869, two Wall Street financiers had a plan to drive the prices of gold sky-high by buying up all of the nation’s gold. The result ended with a total stock market free-fall, with stocks plummeting over 20%, and farmers suffering as a result of a 50% crash in corn and wheat value.
What does that have to do with the day after Thanksgiving though?
Setting: Philadelphia, 1950s – home to the Army-Navy game that took place the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year.
Hordes of people would flock to the city between Thursday and Saturday, skyrocketing traffic and crowds. As a result, police officers had to work long shifts, unable to take the holiday off… and shoplifters took advantage of the chaos by making off with goods. The city tried to shift the name to “Big Friday,” but it simply wasn’t sticking. It actually wasn’t “mainstream” until the 1980s, when marketing agencies realized the opportunity to use the “Black Friday” term to their advantage to pump post-Thanksgiving, pre-gifting season sales.
And that’s when the mass consumption sets in.
It’s ironic that the day that is meant to be a celebration of gratitude for family, friends, and community has become the precursor to mass consumption, essentially nullifying that gratitude. By seeking more than what we currently have, we’re implying that what we currently have isn’t enough, thereby not being grateful for what we do currently have.
We only perpetuate this purchasing frenzy with the expansion from Black Friday to Cyber Monday in the digital age – it’s a 3-day long shopping binge of, often, things we don’t really need.
With that being said, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are budget-friendly opportunities for upcoming holidays – when shopping with mindful intention, we can use these days as opportunities to show our loved ones gratitude during the giving season, with a little less stress on our finances.
A mindful Black Friday – gift options with minimal (or no) environmental impact:
Buying things is totally fine: we live in a society where we actually must buy our food, clothing, and shelter. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are opportunities to take advantage of deals, as long as you are taking advantage of the right ones.
When deal-shopping and gift-giving, remember:
Support local when possible: $50 means nothing to billion-dollar corporations like Walmart or Best Buy… but it may literally be the entire week’s worth of groceries for the local (or online – thanks Etsy!) small business (or it may pay for that special toy that their child wants, that they’re not sure if they can afford). Additionally, these small businesses tend to be completely transparent with their production processes, so you can be sure that “eco-friendly” really does mean eco-friendly.
You can make from the heart, too: homemade goodies such as chutnies, jams, cookies, bars – all made with love – are a more personal and sustainable option; they can also assure that the receiver of your gift is consuming the best quality ingredients possible. Our nutrition choices tend to waver around holiday times – whether that’s over-indulging or not eating enough because we’re busy and distracted – so providing nutritional support is beautiful!
Mind the labels: eco-friendly sounds and looks nice, but don’t take it at face value – be sure to read the labels for pure transparency to ensure that what you’re buying really is as “friendly” as it seems.
Without further ado – here’s our holiday gift guide, to help you mindfully plan your Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases!
35 Eco-Friendly Gifts for Anyone on Your List
EGIFTS: the environmentally-conscious gift of choice – the receiver still knows you’re thinking about him/her, but still retains the right to options of his/her choosing.
- A digital magazine subscription
- An audiobook subscription such as Audible
- A language app subscription such as DuoLingo
- The gift of convenience: Lyft, Uber, UberEats, or Postmates e-giftcard
- A year of Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming service
- An e-gift card to OpenTable or, if available, an e-gift card to his/her favorite restaurant
- An e-gift card to a movie theater or other local experience you know he/she will enjoy
- An e-gift card to his/her favorite yoga, Pilates, boxing, or spin studio
SERVICES: the experiences that will make that special person feel AMAZING from the inside out
- A spa day, facial, or massage
- Cupping session, acupuncture, reiki healing, or other healing modality (perhaps one that you know she has been wanting to try, but can’t bring herself to pay for it?)
- Float pod (sensory deprivation) experience
- Salt room meditation
- Personal training
- Gym or health club membership
- Class package to his/her favorite studio (or one that you know he/she has been wanting to try)
THINGS: buying things is totally fine, as long as they’re sustainably sourced, causing minimal environmental harm through their entire life cycle (from production to end of life), and they’re things that will last. Don’t buy things that you know won’t be used, and don’t sacrifice quality over price – it’s quality that stands the test of time.
- A reusable water bottle for constant hydration with no plastic pollution, such a Klean Kanteen’s plastic-free bottle.
- A reusable stainless steel or glass box set for taking/storing food on the go (or for bringing to restaurants to take leftovers home) – we love this glass and bamboo plastic-free set.
- A set (or a few – never hurts to have one in each purse) of reusable, traveling cutlery, like these Bamboo sets from To Go Ware, whose carrying case is made from recycled water bottles.
- Reusable straws – stainless are great, but silicon straws are especially good for sensitive teeth and kiddos!
- A set of reusable food storage bags or food wraps
- A mason jar drinkware set for the cold brew coffee and iced tea lovers: the kit includes 2 glass mason jars with bamboo (plastic-free!) lids and silicon straws for your caffeine-lover’s fix.
- The zero-waste starter kit that includes it all: 18oz water bottle, 12 oz mug, bamboo utensil set, stainless steel straw, produce bags, stainless steel food containers, bamboo toothbrush, and a beeswax food wrap pack.
- The gift of light: during the winter months, we lose a lot of sun exposure. Though too much UV radiation is not good for our skin, the lack of real sunlight can have a deleterious effect on our mental and emotional well-being! A sunlight lamp that’s UV free can do wonders for any home – and can replace a standard reading light or lamp.
- An immunity boost: sustainably sourced honey (for the non-vegans) is full of propolis, which fights the winter cold and flu like magic. Opt for a beautiful honey basket, or make wellness simple with honey propolis spray – safe for little ones, too!
- Wool dryer balls to replace toxic dryer sheets and softeners
- A washer ball or, alternatively, a GuppyBag that catches all the microplastics that inevitably end up entering our water system when we wash our clothes
- A plastic-free essential oil diffuser such as the Raindrop that uses minimal energy and no heat or water, so it doesn’t compromise the essential oils’ benefits, either!
- Clean water for cooking, drinking, and washing is made easy with the Berkey – a completely plastic-free water purifier whose ceramic filters last 3 years! For a lower cost (and lower size) option, the pH REPLENISH glass alkaline water pitcher is both functional and
- A countertop food composter such as the Food Cycler to reduce food waste (don’t worry – it’s completely odorless!)
- An eco-friendly yoga mat: no slippage, and no icky plastic fumes – we’re fans of 42 Birds’ cork yoga mat, which contains cork and nothing else. Sustainable cork is non-slip with natural anti-microbial properties that resist mold, mildew and bad smells.
- A portable ultrasonic cleaner that cleans everything from produce to pacifiers to dirty laundry: the Sonic Soak generates modulated ultrasonic waves that travel through the water to clean at the microscopic level.
- Truly sustainable (and luxurious) sheets: Ettitude’s bamboo sheets are made from bamboo sourced from FSC-certified forests, and their manufacturing is certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP).
- Barefoot shoes: the benefits of being barefoot are huge, but we live in a society where that may be unhygienic – and dangerous, depending where you are! Vivo shoes (vegan options, too) allow the foot to maintain its integrity – without stepping on anything dangerous – they’re stylish, too!
- Plants: the benefits of plants are endless – they’ve proven multiple times to often be more effective in cleaning indoor air than even the highest-ticket air purifiers! For the best plants to buy for indoor home quality, check out our post on the benefits here.
- We’d me remiss if we left this out: a soft, nurturing, calming wrap that can be used to protect from the sun, to cover the shoulders on a cool night, and even as a baby blanket – our multi-purpose nettle fiber indigo shawl (other colors available, of course) – on sale for Black Friday, too.
Armed with these resources, you can take maintain the Thanksgiving attitude of gratitude while preparing for the gift-giving season.