Welcome to one of the most mysterious weeks of the year. For one day, we participate in the giving of thanks for all the things in our lives that didn’t come with a price tag. We sit around the dinner table with all those we love and hashtag #gratitude as we post family selfies to Instagram accounts. We bask in the warmth of recognition for one another, acknowledging that richness in love is all that truly matters.

And a mere twenty four hours later, we fight (sometimes to the death) to get our hands on the latest sound system and toy kitchen set made by the hands of someone underpaid living thousands of miles away, working in unsafe conditions producing products from materials that are truly poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Originally, the term “Black Friday” was coined to describe heavy traffic the day after Thanksgiving in America, but I believe it’s taken on an entirely new meaning pointing out a profoundly dark situation (and I’m not even referring to the black eye you risk getting when entering a local mall).

Every purchase we make comes with a price tag, and despite the bargains and deals, the true cost of what we buy is putting our entire planet in a debt that we’ll soon be unable to repay. If it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans, the damage we’re doing to our wallets is the least we should be worried about. The National Retail Federation is forecasting that 137.4 million Americans will be shopping on Black Friday this year. If we become more mindful about how and what we purchase, then we can be 137.4 million steps in the right direction.

Here are three things you can do to make this Black Friday different.

1. Ask yourself if they’ll really need it.

When checking off the names on your gift list, remind yourself of the intention behind the gift. Does this person really need or want this? Avoid contributing to the state of the common household closet or drawer accumulating gifts from holidays past, and consider making a donation in their name instead. Supporting non profits like charity:water or global crowdfunding communities like Global Giving are examples of spreading holiday cheer without make a dent in Mother Earth.

2.Think outside of the gift box.

Gifting something unexpected, like online courses from Udemy and Coursera, or investing in an experience by gifting local theatre memberships or pottery classes is a perfect way to bring in the new year!

3. Find a kinder alternative.

If you’re going to shop this Black Friday, you might as well support businesses that keep social impact at their core. Brands that care about the people who contribute to their supply chains as well as their environmental footprint are worthy of being under your Christmas tree this season. Whether it be by supporting artisans with Artisan and Fox, or sustainable fashion alternatives with Zady, discovering a friendlier shopping alternative doesn’t have to be hard. To help get yourself started, check out B Corporation to find social and environmentally conscious businesses.

 

As featured on