Consumption bonanza in the midst of a planetary crisis? Outdoor brands are increasingly co-opting the tradition of Black Friday, bringing it in line with the realities of the 21st century.

Any business needs to turn a profit to remain afloat. But several outdoor brands and retailers have found that the reckless mass-consumption that Black Friday symbolizes is at odds with their environmental ethic. Instead, they’ve re-spun the narrative to create awareness for sustainability issues and alternative circular business models.

Such as Patagonia, which since its brazen “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad in 2011 has continued to take an up-side-down approach by donating all Black Friday profits to grassroots environmental organizations, and this year by launching its “Buy Less, Demand More” campaign.

The American outdoor retailer cooperative REI, meanwhile, has snubbed the greatest sales day of the year entirely, pointedly closing all its shops’ doors on Black Friday since 2015. Instead, REI’s #optoutside campaign encourages both employees and customer’s alike to skip the shopping chaos and get outside.

Do Consumers Want a Green Friday?

Planet aside, recent years have shown indications that both companies and their customers are beginning to lose enthusiasm for the whole Black Friday endeavor, signalling that its hay-day may already be a thing of the past. But the question remains: Is there a demand for its emerging rival, Green Friday?

Among the converts to Green Friday is Arc’Teryx, who this year decided to help keep their apparel out of landfills and in the circular economy with a new offer from their Used Gear trade-in program in 2020. Their experience might shine light on consumer interest:

“I’m excited to report that in less than a month we collected more traded-in gear than we’ve received all year,” says Katie Wilson, Senior Manager Social & Environmental Sustainability at Arc’teryx Equipment.

In an effort to shift the focus away from mass consumption, from November 1 until November 30, the brand rewarded guests who traded-in their used gear with a gift card of 30% of the item’s original retail value – a 10% boost to the regular trade-in value.

“With our Black Friday campaign,” explains Katy Wilson, “we hoped to bring awareness to the importance of circularity in the apparel industry, and to encourage our guests to help us build inventory for our Used Gear program.”

Protect Our Winters Donation

In parallel to the Used Gear Month campaign, Arc’teryx also marked Giving Tuesday on December 1, by donating $10 for every item traded-in during the previous month to the climate-focused non-profit, Protect our Winters (POW).

“Arc’teryx products are meticulously designed for their durability, so keeping gear in play longer benefits both our consumers and the planet. Our circularity model is instrumental in us meeting the ambitious climate goals that we set this year: to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 65% by 2030,” says Katie Wilson.

“To that end, we are proud to support our long-standing partner POW in their climate action on Giving Tuesday.”

Over the years, our holiday calendars have received countless make-overs to meet the current zeitgeist of its celebrators. Maybe it’s time to retire Black Friday to the history books, and see whether Green Friday might better serve our needs?

 

Arc’teryx Used Gear

The Arc’teryx Used Gear program currently runs in the U.S. and Canada, with trade-ins accepted both in stores and online in the U.S., and in stores in Canada. Consumers in the U.S. can purchase Used Gear online at usedgear.arcteryx.com.

 

Photo: Arc’Teryx

Jonathan Fraenkel-Eidse
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com
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