The allure of Black Friday seems to be waining, and it’s only been here in the UK, in a big way, for a few years. The majority of the UK watched in utter horror last year as people fought over material goods they probably didn’t need. Those living in London remembered the North Cirular IKEA opening in 2012. At which many people were hurt and one person stabbed! This year some shops have said “not again” by making the sales for a whole week, defusing the mass buying hysteria of one day. The movement to not buy anything on Black Friday, as a protest, has been growing in strength. See Buy Nothing Day for more details.
Maybe we are at the end of our society’s worship of “stuff”. James Wallman’s book Stuffocation looks at the history of our obsession with stuff and reviews the growing trend for experiences over objects. Likewise the Story of Stuff Project started as a 20 minute video and has grown into a community of a million people world wide. Will A Level Economics students of the future write essays on this decade as the turning point in consumer culture?
Buying = Voting
If you think about every purchase as a chance to vote it changes your mind set around buying things. It also slows down the buying process, so you might decide your don’t actually need that thing. Every purchase of goods, or services, states to that company that you agree with their ideology. This includes; paying tax (or not), testing on animals, pollution, care of the environment, use of chemicals, treatment of their staff, packaging they use, political allegiances (companies have them too), use of natural resources, distance their products travel and many more. This gives us, the consumer, power. That power, when used, is terrifying to companies. They need us to buy their products much more than we need them as we have options (in most circumstances).
My blog often discusses the ethical dilemmas of various purchases as it is not black and white. The mainstream media doesn’t like to engage with these issues, they like things to be simple, but the world is not simple. However I know that my readers can cope with a bit of complication and thinking for yourselves! I just want to provide the tools, and then you decide what is important to you and your values. Informed choice is critical when going something as important as voting i.e. buying products or services. Like political parties no company is perfect, but at least there are lots more of them to chose from and you can vote for them (when you buy) as often as you need to.
In the meantime if you are anxious to get going with the world of ethical and thoughtful shopping check out the Ethical Consumer web site as a good start.