White Monday – Conscious Consumerism

In Britain alone, it’s estimated that we’ll spend £7 billion over Black Friday weekend. In a world of over-stuffed wardrobes, un-used tools and useless trinkets, do we need to keep mindlessly consuming?

Many of the people who spend on Black Friday will be getting themselves into debt – for a bargain. All for what? To impress at Christmas? To show your loved ones how much you care?

For some, Black Friday is seen as a way to make Christmas more affordable – by picking up the things you want to buy cheaper in the sales. Why not just buy less for Christmas and enjoy the company of your family and loved ones, instead of embracing the mass consumerism associated with both Black Friday and Christmas.

We’re exhausting the Earth’s resources with our consumption and waste. Why not rent instead (if it’s good value) or buy second hand. Learn the skills to repair. Re-purpose and re-use instead of throwing away.

Founded in Sweden in 2017, White Monday is an alternative to Black Friday. Whilst Black Friday stands for linear, wear and tear consumption, and competition. White Monday stands for circular consumption and collaboration. White was chosen to illustrate the contrast, like Yin & Yang.

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Whilst consumerism is absolutely a part of modern life, “shopping until you drop” is not sustainable in terms of climate change or resources- with a huge 62% of all global greenhouse gases emitted during the extraction, processing and production of goods. Not least to say our mental health, with a constant strain on finances and the desire to own more shiny things.

Support Small, Ethical Business

Of course, the message of my article isn’t to tell you to stop buying anything, ever. Just to be more mindful in your shopping habits.  Circular consumption still has a positive economic impact. Companies are encouraged to adapt, and to produce products which meet consumer sustainability and environmental demands.

The campaign also encourages us to highlight those who are already offering consumers the opportunity to shop guilt free and with minimal environmental impact. In fact, you can even find some White Monday discounts via the website, from companies promoting circular consumption.

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Do you vote for a world of exploitation, where resources are plundered for profit, or do you vote for a world where nature stands a chance, and where people are paid fairly.

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When you see an amazing deal, take a breath and think, who is paying the cost for that cheap product? (Ethical Hour 2019).

If you’re a family or single parent who can’t afford much, think of this. Perhaps there is a family somewhere who are running a small family business – and they rely on people buying from them to keep going. They have small profit margins, and higher costs than many big businesses such as Amazon, and they can’t afford to reduce their stock by 50% on Black Friday. In fact, if they did, this might well drive them out of business.

Imagine then, while you and hundreds of others are grabbing bargains from the big corporations – the poor independent, small families are not making any sales at all. Like you, they don’t have a huge budget for Christmas – and it’s getting made smaller by the mass corporate consumerism of Black Friday.

Right To Repair

An example of a circular economy, is repairing items instead of throwing them away to buy new ones. Simply extending the lifetime of household electrical items by just one year would save around 4 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030. (Ethical Consumer Magazine 2019).

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A huge 77% of EU citizens would like to repair their own products, but many companies make this difficult with strict trademark laws, and many smartphone, tablet and laptop designs moving towards sealed units – even replacing a battery is almost impossible for the average user.

Just last year, both Samsung and Apple were fined by Italian authorities for planned obsolescence – intentionally sending updates which would cause malfunction and reduce performance. And many brands have been found to glue parts together, so they cannot be easily repaired, or break altogether when the product is taken apart. (Ethical Consumer Magazine 2019).

At the moment, Fairphone is the only mobile phone designed to be repaired – with individual parts available for purchase.

The Right to Repair campaign aims to ditch the throwaway economy and ditch rampant consumerism. Campaigning, just one example, for spare parts to be available to everyone – not just professionals.

One of my favourite companies who encourage a circular economy are Patatam, a website selling pre-loved clothes, at fabulous prices. Not only does this help the environment, but it saves us money and helps reduce the pressure of fast fashion on resources. There are many companies now who refuse to participate.

So please, take a moment to consider how many of those Black Friday purchases you really need to make. Is there something you can repair? Is there a better way to buy? We could all stand to be a little more mindful with our consumer power.

Thanks for reading! Please share your #WhiteMonday changes on Instagram.

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