Sustainability Tip: Here’s how to ditch big consumerism and reduce your carbon footprint this Black Friday |

Sustainability Tip: Here’s how to ditch big consumerism and reduce your carbon footprint this Black Friday

The Bookworm of Edwards's café and community space, in pre-COVID times. It still serves as a gathering space, though indoor tables are farther apart and outdoor seating is encouraged, especially under the new tent.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo

We’ve all heard about, or perhaps experienced the chaos that is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days in the U.S. Big-name stores are even starting to open on Thanksgiving night, blasting commercials during the Thanksgiving Day television programming, including the parade, dog show and football games. It’s one of the most capitalist days on the calendar, but it can also be incredibly wasteful.

It’s conventionally thought that Black Friday got its name because that was the day during the year where businesses would go from being in the ‘red’ (not making a profit) to being in the ‘black’ (making a profit), the History Channel writes on its website. However, the real origins of the day Black Friday have nothing to do with profit and began in Philadelphia in the 1950s.

The city coined the term for the day after Thanksgiving when hordes of suburbanites would flood the city for the Army-Navy football game that is played yearly on that Saturday. Police in Philadelphia would not be able to take Friday off and would have to work extra shifts to monitor the immense football fan crowds flooding into the city, thus the term “Black Friday” for the day after Turkey Day.

Then, in the 1980s retailers found a new way to spin “Black Friday” into a marketing technique that they could use to drive sales after Thanksgiving, using that red-to-black story as the basis for positive spins on Black Friday. As we know it today, Black Friday carries on that technique that was born in the late 1980s and continues to be a day dedicated to consumerism.

In response to this consumer-based holiday, National Buy Nothing Friday was started in Vancouver in 1993 to urge people to change their consumer habits. In 1997, founder Ted Dave, moved this new holiday to the day after Thanksgiving in response to the American holiday, Black Friday. Since then, more than 30 countries have adopted the campaign in various ways.

In one generation, Black Friday has changed from a one-day holiday to a four-day event, including other shoot-off days such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

But what does this have to do with sustainability? Producing consumer goods has a big carbon footprint, which produces lots of emissions from the raw materials, energy and water needed to produce and transport the item. That’s not even to mention the waste that is generated throughout the production process and at the end of the product’s lifetime.

The first R in our three Rs is “reduce.” The best way we can make our carbon footprint smaller is by first reducing what we buy, reusing what we can and then recycling what is left over. For many, that could mean refraining from the Black Friday frenzy.

This year, instead of spending hours competing for the best deal, take advantage of one of these cool ways to celebrate the day without indulging in big consumerism.

Substitute Black Friday for Fresh Air Friday. Every year on Black Friday, Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife open their 41 state parks with free admission on Black Friday.

Tell friends and family about Buy Nothing Friday. Movements only work when lots of people get behind it. Plan to do something besides retail therapy with friends or family in town for the holiday.

Participate in Small Business Saturday. Show your support for local business and instead visit them on Small Business Saturday. Eagle County has so many locally owned establishments, from coffee shops to pet shops, ski shops and more.

Jake Watroba is a sustainability intern at Walking Mountains Science Center. Contact him at or 970-827-9725.

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