Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in the US and many other countries. In recent years, retailers have begun slashing prices even earlier – with hoards of consumers heading out to snag a deal still full from Thanksgiving dinner.
Holiday traffic is a boon for small and large businesses alike. In fact, 30% of all goods sold to consumers in the US are sold between Black Friday and Christmas Day.
The problem? 45% of global greenhouse gasses come solely from producing consumer goods. And our emissions rise when we shop ‘til we drop.
That’s not to say all shopping is bad; there are things we need for our daily lives. Unfortunately, Black Friday steals often lead to impulse buys and excess waste.
In the UK, one study found 80% of items bought as a Black Friday deal are only used once, if they’re used at all. And when we buy things we don’t actually want or need, our rubbish piles up. That’s one reason US consumers create 25% more waste than usual during the holidays.
The “Green Friday” Revolution
It’s clear, Black Friday is a poor deal for the planet. But many small businesses can’t afford to miss out on high season revenue. For these businesses, Green Friday offers an eco-conscious alternative.
The concept behind Green Friday is simple: instead of promoting compulsive consumption, businesses create holiday initiatives that put the planet front and center.
In recent years, REI has led the Green Friday charge. For several years, the outdoor retailer has closed its doors the day after Thanksgiving instead of running holiday promotions. Instead, it encourages customers to #OptOutside and gives employees a paid day off.
But you don’t have to close your doors to participate in Green Friday. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to have an eco-conscious holiday season while staying open for business.
How a Green Friday Strategy Can Boost Business
Consumer demographics are changing. As younger generations amass more purchasing power, it’s becoming increasingly clear: sustainability is a top priority. In fact, one recent study shows that most Gen Z customers are willing to spend up to 10% more on environmentally conscious products.
Rather than closing up shop, use Green Friday as a brand building moment – and let your customers know you’re aligned with their values.
6 Green Friday Ideas for Small Businesses
1. Offer Discounts on Sustainable and Local Products
Instead of slashing prices store-wide, use Green Friday to highlight the products on your shelves with a small environmental footprint. This includes items that are produced sustainably, but also local goods, which require less fossil fuels to transport than products made elsewhere.
Green Friday sales are also an excellent time to educate customers on sustainability, eco-friendly alternatives, and how to go about the holiday shopping season more sustainably.
If your store doesn’t feature many local or sustainable products, use Green Friday as an opportunity to review your approach. Which items can you replace with lower-impact alternatives?
Bonus: Once you refresh your inventory, you can feature new additions for Green Friday!
2. Show “Preloved” Goods Some Love
Many of the things we toss still have a lot of life left in them. By restoring and rehoming items that would have otherwise been discarded, we reduce the emissions it takes to produce new products and keep premium goods out of the landfill.
A few powerful examples: This year, IKEA is embracing Green Friday by buying back and reselling items their customers no longer want. And in 2020, instead of slashing prices, the Swedish outdoor retailer Haglöfs offered customers a sneak peak of Haglöfs Restored – its new line of restored and reused clothing.
Even on a small scale, your business can make a stand with secondhand goods. For instance, you could work with vintage curators or hit the thrift stores yourself to collect and upcycle items with a branded spin. Or, consider offering store credit vouchers to customers in exchange for items they no longer need – and hosting a boutique sale later on in the season.
There’s still a stigma attached to secondhand goods in our society. Terms like “preloved” and “gently-used” counter notions of worn or damaged pieces, while placing second hand items on the same racks and displays as new ones helps eliminate bias. By using these strategies alongside consumer education, you can use Green Friday to shift our collective mentality.
3. Host Sustainable Workshops and Events
Instead of boosting business with Black Friday deals, host workshops and events that empower your customers to be more sustainable.
Clothing and electronics are some of the most popular Black Friday purchases. But we only recycle 25% of the electronics we buy, and send a garbage truck’s worth of apparel to the landfill every second.
Can your business offer on-site tech repair or clothing mending, or host a basic sewing workshop or gadget exchange?
You can also hand over the mic to local experts and host a talk on a relevant sustainable topic, like circular fashion, the slow food movement, or zero waste living.
Lastly, join forces with other shops in your area to make Green Friday a community affair. Together, you can co-host events like a neighborhood clothing swap or local maker’s market.
4. Donate to Sustainable Causes
You can still participate in Green Friday while drawing in customers with great prices. There are several ways to use your holiday deals to generate donations for sustainable causes.
Depending on your business and budget, you may:
- Give customers the option to contribute to a sustainable initiative (like planting trees!) instead of receiving a Black Friday discount.
- Green your holiday discounts by donating a percentage of sales to an environmental initiative of your choosing.
- Offer donation matching on Green Friday up to a certain percentage of each customer’s purchase.
5. Reward Conscious Acts
Green Friday isn’t just for small businesses; many individuals take action, too. Instead of lining up for Black Friday deals, your customers may be participating in local cleanups, joining climate protests, or contributing their shopping dollars to environmental initiatives.
Use Green Friday to support meaningful environmental actions – and even give your customers a few new ideas! You may offer an in-store discount for customers who bring in donations, shop with reusable containers and bags, or sign-up for eco-friendly e-receipts.
Alternatively, keep in touch virtually with a social media campaign. Ask customers to tag your business while they’re out taking climate action for a chance to win a giveaway or to access a special Green Friday discount.
6. Run an “Ever-Green” Campaign
Black Friday’s impact lingers for longer than a single day, and your Green Friday initiative can too! Go a step further and run an “ever-green” campaign that extends through the holiday season.
Whether that’s offering a month-long discount on sustainable items, hosting a series of events or workshops, or keeping eco-conscious shopping incentives active through Christmas – there’s no shortage of ways to green your holiday cheer.
You may also take this time to double down on your own sustainability efforts. This Guide to Sustainable Retail offers dozens of ideas to help you get started; highlight the steps you’re taking throughout your holiday campaign to boost brand loyalty well into 2022.
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