Green Friday: The eco-friendly alternative to Black Friday

Black Friday deals are hard to miss right now - your inbox is doubtless full of "unbeatable" offers and billboards everywhere are proclaiming what great deals can be had.

For many, it is a chance to grab a bargain or make a start on the Christmas shopping. And for businesses, it is a chance to boost sales amid a difficult trading period.

But some people are exploring a greener alternative to the shopping holiday - with "Green Friday" starting to grab people's attention.

People mark the day in a variety of ways - from sustainable shopping choices, to ditching the high street altogether, or getting out into nature - but an environmental focus remains consistent.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when Green Friday started, but for the past few years environmental activists have been promoting it - and it has been picked up by businesses and across social media.

One of the people giving the shops a wide berth is Martin Dorey who described consumerism as "one of the greatest drivers of climate collapse".

The climate activist marked Green Friday with a wild swim last year. "Buying nothing but good vibes. Flogging only sun and winter sunshine," he said at the time.

Mr Dorey, from Cornwall, told BBC News he hopes the movement makes people "think twice about buying needless stuff" and urged people to not buy anything.

"I certainly don't feel better about my life if I buy new stuff on Black Friday, so I don't bother."

He said it was "great" if companies chose to have a sale to avoid sending products to landfill and praised tree planting ideas.

"But don't use it [Green Friday] just to sell more stuff and boost sales - that's greenwashing," he said.

Laura Shewbridge and Paul Walker are both marking their first Green Friday this year.

Ms Shewbridge said it was an "important" idea and plans to cycle or walk instead of driving and start an upcycling furniture project on Friday.

The marketing manager from Essex said she had recently been making a conscious effort to reuse, eat more plant-based food and recycle clothes.

"The growing concern around climate change and cost-of-living worries will surely make Green Friday more prominent this year", she added.

Paramedic Mr Walker said Black Friday was "consumerism at its worst" and described the greener alternative as a "great antidote to the madness of spending".

In light of a growing interest in climate change, he said he hoped the event would be more prominent this year.

Mr Walker from Norfolk said from Green Friday onwards he intended to make a "concerted effort" to visit the local market where they use recyclable bags and no plastic products.

These environmental messages have been shared by charities including Green Alliance which said: "The key is to buy less and buy better."

Libby Peake, head of resource policy said it was "encouraging" to see more people embracing Green Friday "and aiming to shop sustainably or even not at all".

The "throwaway culture" of Black Friday "is bad for the environment" and people should instead consider recycled products, said the charity and think tank.

Peter Krideras, who started marking Green Friday last year, co-founded a space where shoppers can consider sustainable options. He said he had been "blown away by the response this year".

Mr Krideras, from Australia said he was eager to offer an alternative to the "frenzied consumerism" of Black Friday.

He said the Green Friday movement had recently grown around the world and explained the "hot topics" of climate change and sustainability encouraged consumers to look for more ethical options.

Shoppers queue for a Primark store on Black Friday on November 27, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales
Shoppers queued for Black Friday deals during the coronavirus pandemic including in Cardiff in 2020

But it's not just the consumers taking part. Clothes brand Passenger is one of the retailers to take part.

Passenger offers customers the opportunity to plant five trees and protect the rainforest with every order over the whole Black Friday period.

Over the past six years, through its Green Friday scheme, more than 385,193 native trees have been planted and more than 2,200 acres of rainforest protected.

The retailer said it had avoided Black Friday for as long as possible but it "had a real impact on all of our seasonal shopping habits."

Passenger said the purpose of Green Friday was to "inspire escapism" and encourage people to "unplug and reconnect with nature all year round, no matter what".

However, with many battling cost-of-living concerns the British Retail Consortium said consumers were "keenly looking" for Black Friday deals in the run up to Christmas.

"It's great that Green Friday has taken off," said Passenger, but the retailer recognised the downside of greenwashing and urged consumers to check green claims when shopping.

Other companies taking part in Green Friday include beauty brand Rituals, vintage label Rixo and furniture store Sofology.