Black Friday. Dancing to the tune of marketing
Today is a day when we can buy at incredible prices, any kind of goods from all over the world.... Isn't it a great opportunity? But can these cheap prices make us forget the consequences of our purchases? I would say: Cheap prices, no thank you! I prefer fair prices and fair salaries in order to build fair trade.
The tradition of celebrating the biggest discount day of the year after Thanksgiving, originated from the US, has spread to many countries around the world. And anyone can have access to the best offers via almost any online platform. For years, the famous Black Friday has been eagerly awaited by millions of people who have the false impression that it is a unique opportunity to "save" some money. But ultimately this is another trick orchestrated by the capitalistic machine to make us dance to its rhythm like docile puppets.
The choice to buy at a fixed date or miss the opportunity, combined with a strong advertising campaign addressed to "all types" of people; the proximity to Christmas - and all of its gifts -; the "need" to have something better than my neighbour; the wish to be the most fashionable and the coolest... These elements and other reasons combine to produce the poisoned ingredients that make up the bait.
The event is marketed heavily, so it becomes widely known and the perception is generated that "it cannot be missed". It becomes commonplace. How are you going to miss it? It is not so much about people being delusional or misled, there is rather a complex manipulative system that generates false needs and makes many of us into relentless consumers. But we can start to break with this destructive cycle if we join together and help each other, and act as a community instead of a herd.
Apart from everything related to the manipulation of consumers, what I want to stress is the fact that putting a low price on something provides the main incentive to make a purchase. Why do we consent to a society that takes us to a situation where lower prices make us buy things and that, on top of it, this is considered as something normal and even great!? Don't you think instead that the motivation should be our needs, or maybe the pleasure that a product gives you? Rather than the price, or the excitement around the act of purchasing itself.
- A product with an excessively low price will probably be the result of an exploitative production process.
- Buying cheap because you don't have enough resources suggests that we have to center our critique and resistance on inequalities in wealth.
- Buying goods which are not necessary or sustainable is self-destructive.
All of this should make us think about who the real opponents are (definitely, it is not the people that want to fight with us to grab the best bargain). We need to plan and build a better world with totally different values and rules. Have you ever wondered how you would personally price what you buy or sell, without taking into account the reference values that we are used to (offers-demands-profits)? Let's twist things around completely to find the fair price for everything all of the time, instead of becoming blinded by the glitter of meaningless and shiny benefits: What is not good for the rest of humanity or the planet, is not good for anyone.
Do not forget that money is just our tool, something whose value is determined by us, and that we can use it in the ways we decide to. There are too many absurd rules and habits that have become unquestioned routines in everyday life. We can just follow these routines, dancing to the tune of those that play it, or we can come up with fresh ideas and follow new rules that are better for everyone.
This Black Friday changes its colour!
Let's put some different colours to our days. And if you want some Black day, make that black be on the balance sheets of the people that are being punished by neoliberal trends. Let's build something different for the people who want to make the world a better place and for those who favour solidarity and cooperation over competition. Many of them are just trying to climb up the chain so if you are going to buy this time, don't buy from multinationals that oppress us, buy fair trade! And if it is with fair money, even better!
Oh, Heavens! Black Friday is back, as well as cyber Monday and the longest fantastic week, that last week until Christmas! Arghhh! Horror! Here comes the media bombing: Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! People crowded to the point of crushing at the door of department stores. Oh, heavens! Is this kind of consumption unsustainable? Who cares! Oh heavens! Balance sheets should be boosted before the end of the year, they need to go from red to black numbers!... And what can be done to combat these scourges which wolf down our ever decreasing planetary resources?!
I have my own proposal for this Friday and the following days, until the moment that the automatic and naturalised consumer celebrations become countercultural and a force for regeneration. Do you want to know how? Well, I contribute in "my own way"... like the song says, hehe. I also want the numbers to become black in the companies, but... not all of them. Here's my proposal: Colorful Fridays!
Make Friday green! I take advantage of the consumerist furore that surrounds me to visit and meet green companies, see what they offer, to see if they have or have not joined the madness. If they haven't joined, they gain some points. I prefer those companies that are priced the same all year round, not those that juggle their prices. I always find potential gifts that I like for myself, for this or that person... and I take advantage, because the best things are the ones that are sold out first!
No Black Sturday, Sunday or Mondays! Red-Black days! This is what I look for at the FairMarket, those businesses that offer products from the regions that are suffering the most from the attacks of the rampant neoliberalism that stalks us. Now is the time to buy clothes from Ekojin or some coconut oil from Colombia... Exquisite and delicate products that will please a lot here and will contribute a lot there.
Or Pink Friday, a day to lie on the sofa with an infusion and a good movie, some music, a book...
Have I convinced you? I hope you join the colorful days. With you, and more and more people, together we will manage to change from this consumerist mentality little by little and without calling any truce! Let's buy in utopia in the coming days, let's buy from the Good End, really!
Back to what matters
Less than one month is left until Christmas and like most people you are probably asking yourself what gift you could buy for your familiy and friends. But what if you buy nothing? Or at least give something different, something not material?
Flowers wilt, toys break and let's be honest, most children have way to many of them. You give chocolates, they give you chocolates as well... what a meaningfull exchange! But have you ever considered the dramatic consequences these traditions have on your environment? Tons of gift wrapping paper is wasted, the things you buy are often in special Christmas packaging, plastic surounds every toy. Electric lights on all of the windows to show what nice decorations you have bought, the brighter your house shines the better. Why not go minimalist this year and search for ecological alternatives?
- You could, for example, offer an unforgettable trip to your kids, invite your partner to a good restaurant, give your nephew concert tickets to see his favorite local band, and send a voucher for a zero waste shop to your mom. I'm sure you can't remember all the gifts you received at Christmas, but I am sure that you remember all the good moments you shared with those you love, the laughter, the cookies your grandma bakes every year. You do remember these things because they are what really matters. Spend time with those you love and not time working to earn money to buy something expensive to give them.
- But if you still don't want to join your family with empty hands at Christmas, you still have alternatives, like buying toys made of wood, getting something in a second-hand shop, or a zero waste shop. Instead of buying some gift paper that will be ripped up and thrown away a few days later, you can use old paper, maybe draw something on it yourself to make it look more fancy, or hide your gift in a nice scarf that can be reused.
- Maybe you have heard of the Windows of Advent? Maybe you already do this in your neighborhood or village. The idea is that to bring the community together and instead of having the lights on every day, 25 people, families, and partners, decorate one of their windows for one day of the advent. They then turn the lights on that window on the date they chose and people can come by to have a look at that window, and share a cup of tea and some Christmas cookies with all those that came to visit. If your village doesn't practice this, why not propose this project, and keep your lights on for only one night? The environment will thank you!