The Black Friday and Cyber Monday Conversation We Aren’t Having
As a self-proclaimed minimalist, the thought of the flyers, long lines, and consumerism makes me itch. It’s hard for me to reconcile capitalism with a greater mission. It’s the empty consumerism that continues to feed the greedy and fast-fashion monsters that are negatively impacting human rights and the environment. While I try my best throughout the year to mindfully consume and only bring things into my life intentionally that add joy and support businesses that align with my values, in some cases I need to shop and spend with these corporate monsters and the guilt and shame I feel is real.
My inbox was flooded with emails from large corporation or small businesses advertising Black Friday sales weeks before it arrived. Following, the emails quickly pivoted to Shop Small Saturday, and Cyber Monday, promoting discount codes, free shipping, and extended sales. Simultaneously, there were messages of boycotting Black Friday on my social media feeds and not shopping or buying the remainder of the week.
I participated in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday consumerism chaos and spent dollars with small and large Canadian businesses during these sales, let me tell you why.
I’m a full-time single mom. I have a stable career where I receive a pay cheque bi-weekly. Independently, my pay cheque is distributed to rent, daycare fees, and the dreaded student loan payment. Little by little money is allocated for groceries, insurance, gas, extra curricular activities, etc. The reality of needing things and affording them is real.
Additionally, I am also a human who values quality over quantity and sustainability. I consciously make efforts to spend my dollars to support small businesses and makers that are owned by people of colour or women. It’s also important to me that they align with my values and represent diversity, body-positivity, and inclusivity. While I try my best to purchase second-loved, borrow, and up-cycle, and when necessary, spend and buy new while putting my dollars towards supporting small businesses that check all the boxes and align with my values, it’s not always possible. Ultimately, it’s no secret, that these values typically result in a higher price point. Because of this I can’t only shop ethically, and when I do, I need to take advantage of these sale opportunities, because, I need to shop where my bank account allows.
When I spend with large organizations for need or want, I feel shame and guilt. In these moments, I need to give myself a reality check and recognize that there is no shame when we need to purchase from these corporate giants, because the reality is, affordability is real. The shame is not on us. The shame is on the giant corporations and fast-fashion giants that continue to take advantage of people’s human rights, negatively impact the environment, and pollute our water with toxins in lieu of greater profit margins. It’s not all on us. We can’t shoulder the shame and responsibility, but we can take action to re-route the guilt, shame, and accountability to these corporations to recognize their disastrous practices and the harmful consequences of their business practices.
So, there is no shame in taking advantage of the sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whether, it’s to afford to support the small businesses that align with your values or to buy what you need from the large corporations while keeping a few extra dollars in your pocket to put clothes on your back, feed your children, pay for daycare, and take care of the real day to day responsibilities and obligations we all have, do what you need to do. A friendly reminder, we’re all just out here trying to do what we can with what we have and there’s no shame in that.