Green Travel meets Black Friday
With the turkey all but devoured and only pie crumbs littering plates, it’s time to get down to the serious task of getting ready for the next holiday – Christmas. The traditional start to the holiday season is the day after Thanksgiving, a little shopping day we all call “Black Friday.” But why do we call it that and is it even remotely green?
To begin with, Black Friday got it’s name from the simple fact that it was the day that many retailers finally were operating ‘in the black’ for the first time in any given year. Up until the big Christmas shopping frenzy that takes place the day after Thanksgiving, many shops were running their businesses in the red, meaning at a loss, but that all changed as shoppers elbowed their way to the cash registers, arms full of gifts for family and friends. Hence, Black Friday.
Today, Black Friday takes on a different connotation. As with all things, there are those who take it all a little too far. Inevitably, there are injuries and, on a few occasions, deaths, due to the overzealous and rather callous need of some to be the first in the store to save an few pennies on the dollar. Frankly, this is a disturbing trend makes the prospect of shopping for the holidays less and less fun. It is also not a very green way to celebrate the holidays since many of the mega-stores where this crush of shoppers occurs carry a great many products from all over the world, with only a handful of products made locally. The whole point of the holiday seems to be lost and never mind trying to get people to buy only those products made in the US. Granted, there aren’t as many products as we might like produced here in the US but those that are are even rarer sights in these mega-marts.
What is even worse, environmentally anyway, about these Black Friday traditions is the need of many to camp out in front of a given store for days. Yes, days. Earlier this week I found myself at the local electronics store and there were already people camping out, and that was on Monday. They had camping gear like you would use on an eco-adventure in the rainforest, or on an eco-trek across the Sierras. But all this to go shopping? Really? Don’t we have better things to do than camp out in front of a store to save a few bucks? OK, so if you are going to get a brand new television for, say, 75% off than I see the point, especially if it is one of those Smart TVs, because that can be hundreds of dollars, but is your time and comfort during a holiday week, really worth that? Now, if someone was having a 75% off sale on eco-trips to places all over the world, than that would be a line that I would be standing in for a few days, especially if the destinations were as far flung as I like to travel. Granted, there isn’t much difference in the logic but somehow there is in the outcome, probably because the eco-trips are my drug of choice and I really couldn’t care less about all the “stuff” people feel the need to buy at 3am on Black Friday.
But, back to the camping out phenomenon. I really don’t need to understand it to admire how they go about doing it. I saw several really high-tech campsites set up outside the electronics store on Monday. Yes, I did stop and stare. Gawk really. They had tents and sleeping bags. A Coleman stove (propane) and lanterns (LED). I had to wonder what they were planning to cook on the stove since they were lacking food of every kind, except coffee from the local chain coffee place. But they were ready. Lawn chairs were neatly placed in a very organized line and there were even recycling boxes put out as trash receptacles. If you ignore the fact that they were out in front of a store, it could have been a campsite almost anywhere. Now, I am not sure what they planed to do about certain biological necessities, but that is a different story all together. And from all that I could see, recycling and all, they looked pretty green in their camping out. I just hope they kept it up all week and those who joined them over the course of this past week followed suit and were green minded as well.
Happily, however, Black Friday is coming to an end, making way for Cyber Monday. And whether you shopping like an insane person today, or you plan to do everything on-line on Monday, think & buy locally, even if it’s on the global level. Make it a choice to buy local even when you aren’t on a green vacation because it is just as important for your local shops here at home as it is abroad when you are eco-tripping across the globe. And remember, a deal isn’t always a deal if, in the production of the item, more harm was done than the good will benebfit you are your loved one who receives it. So, be a good and conscientious Santa – buy local and don’t step on the person in front of you, even if they are going at a snails pace. And don’t forget, it’s the thought that counts, so have fun and consider giving the gift of travel. Having trouble finding the “perfect” gift for your favorite uncle, why not introduce him to your favorite green resort? Or want to help you Mom get away from it all? How about a weekend at a green spa? Surf on over to Ecotripper to see which green hotel you can send your loved ones to. They’ll thank you for it.
Travel green. Pass it on.