Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping

Black Friday shopping isn’t the only thing happening today. It turns out the day after Thanksgiving was not invented as a shopping melee.

Take back the day and use it for something that you will really enjoy and that will actually add value to your life. After all, it’s the season of joy, not the season of stressing about deals running out, fighting for the last gadget, or crippling debt.

On that lovely note, I’ve made a list of 20 things I’d rather be doing today.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping

Fun things to do instead of Black Friday shopping.

1. Spend time with friends and family.

2. Settle in with a good book or newspaper.

3. Cook a healthy meal or enjoy leftovers.

4. Volunteer for a local charity or nonprofit.

5. Start planning or making homemade holiday gifts.

6. Decorate for December holidays.

7.  Call a family member you haven’t seen in a while.

8. Pull out your arts and crafts supplies and get your hands dirty.

9. Clean out your closet. (Just me?)

10. Plan your next vacation.

11. Visit a museum. Many will have discounts today.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping
12. Get outside! Go for a walk, visit your local park, or explore your local State and National Parks. Many parks are offering free entrance (but often only to a limited number of people so get your pass soon!).

13. Do your favorite type of exercise. Swim, run, go to a class, dance around your living room – do what makes you happy.

20 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shopping
14. Indulge in a holiday movie (or you know, start and finish that new season you’ve been looking forward to… like Gilmore Girls.)

15. Journal. Don’t let Thanksgiving’s success go to waste. Get going on that gratitude journal.

16. Learn something new. Online classes, local stores, your best friend – there are lots of places to pick up a new skill.

17. Build a fort. What, you think you have to be a kid to do that?

18. Pamper yourself. Paint your toes, put on the album your family hates, spend the day in bed – you know what to do.

19. Take your winter gear to fixed or waxed.

20. Go ice skating. But please, I beg you, don’t forget the hot chocolate.

Why You Shouldn’t Shop on Black Friday

Shopping on Black Friday not only fills your house with things you and your loved ones likely don’t need, but it also tells companies that it’s alright to make their employees work miserable hours on a holiday that is supposed to be about giving thanks for what you have.

Black Friday

 

And it’s not just going into the store. Last year Americans spent $4.45 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone. That’s a frightening amount of shopping and spending.

These purchases have real impacts, and shopping for the sake of shopping hurts us long after we hand over our card.

9 Reasons Not to Shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday

1. Shopping, especially in excess, is resource and energy intensive. What you buy (and how) has a very real environmental impact. It’s not just your wallet that will feel the impact of your spending.

2. The deals aren’t real. Many retailers raise prices in advance of Black Friday or they don’t actually intend to ever sell the item at the list price.

3. “But it’s the best deals of the entire year!” False. Many stores will have better prices on the same items throughout the year. Prices are likely to be even lower in early December.

4. The crowds. Does anyone actually like waiting in line and being over-run by the people around them in the store?

5. Stress! We seriously don’t need any more stress in our lives.

6. Workers shouldn’t have to protest for their right to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

7. You’re more likely to make rash decisions and impulse purchases when something is on sale.

8. Many retailers manufacture cheaper, lower quality items to sell on Black Friday according to an article in CNN.

9. Black Friday isn’t about giving consumer’s good deals and taking care of loyal customers. It’s about pushing their year-end profits. Black Friday started as a way for stores to grow their profits. It’s all about getting them more money, not saving you any.

 

There’s a reason books on decluttering are hitting the top of charts across the world. We are so conditioned to buy without thinking it through first. We fill our homes with so.much.stuff. Let’s take a break this Black Friday and be happy with what we already have.

 

Stay tuned for Friday’s post on what you should do instead of shop on Black Friday.

Making Black Friday Green

Every year the amount of people that rush out to the stores the day after Thanksgiving baffles me. The lines just to park alone are enough to scare me away from the mall for months, let alone the chaos inside stores or the lines that form on Thanksgiving night. Yet in recent years Black Friday shopping has increased in popularity, enough so to encourage many retailers to open at midnight.

While some people champion the economic benefits of mass shopping the day after Thanksgiving or claim it is a great way to start the holiday season, the impact of Black Friday does not go unfelt by the environment as well. Between the extra driving, the shopping bags, the items people buy that they don’t need, and everything else the impact is enormous.

Image courtesy of Buy Nothing New

So instead of rushing out with everyone else tomorrow, why not get a few extra hours of sleep, go for a walk or run with a friend or family member, play a game, make a great breakfast out of some leftovers, and enjoy the day outside of the shopping craze.

If you are going out for Black Friday and my suggestion for some extra sleep didn’t entice you, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Only buy what you really need. Go in with a list and stick to it.

2. Just because it’s cheap or on-sale doesn’t mean it’s the best buy or that you need it. Choose items that will last and be used for years.

3. Once you find what you need, leave. It’s always tempting to buy a few more things when you are just walking around.

4. Set a budget and stick to it.

Black Friday hangover

It amazes me what people will do to save a dollar or two on a toy or some other non-essential item. People stood outside of stores on Thanksgiving night and battled each other for the best deals (one woman even used pepper spray against fellow shoppers in an attempt to secure her bargain). 

Image courtesy of Michael Nagle – AFP/Getting Images

But does any of this make us any happier? Researchers have been telling us for years that all of our stuff only increases our unhappiness, despite that quick hit we get from buying it. 

“[Shopping] is like a drug,” says James Roberts, a marketing professor at Baylor University. “Our brains releases chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which actually produce feelings of pleasure, and we can become addicted to those feelings. But money and material possessions will not bring you happiness, and not only that, they can cause more harm than good.” From Good.

 It amazes me the amount of things people believe they need to live. All of the gadgets and other junk we use a few times and then forget about. All of the items we buy to do a single specific thing can usually be done with something you already have. I just don’t understand this constant feeling that we NEED to buy things, that we do not have enough stuff, and that more stuff will make us happier. 


How to avoid the constant cycle of junk:
1. Wait. It seems like as soon as we see an item we kind of like we convince ourselves we cannot live without it. If you can make it 2 weeks without it, you don’t need it. 


2. Dig through what you already have to see if you can make your current possessions work. Also, look online for ideas of how you can make things around your house work for the job you are trying to accomplish.


3. Simple is always better. Why buy a battery powered gadget when the classic, human powered version works just as well? (This is especially true with kitchen equiptment. Why do you need a battery powered wine opener when the world has been drinking wine just fine without it for thousands of years?). 


4. When you are bored, do not go to the mall or online to shop. Read a book, exercise, find a new hobby, or ask a friend to meet you for some fair trade coffee or homemade goodies. 


5. Do not give into peer pressure. Just because the Jones have an item doesn’t mean you need it too. 


Ultimately it takes time to be happy with what you have and avoid all of things you don’t need. But doing so will not only save you money, it will also increase your happiness and contentment with the things you do have. 


So turn off that computer and stay focused on “Cyber Monday.” You do not need any of that stuff anyways, and your family and friends would really enjoy homemade gifts or pure necessities this year. 

Boycott "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday"

End the madness! On “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” consider the impact of your decisions and opt to keep your wallet in your pocket. What if you gave everyone on your list something meaningful that you made? How will your decisions impact your wallet and the environment?

“Help turn Cyber Monday green
Next Monday, November 28 — the Monday after American Thanksgiving — is widely known as “Cyber Monday,” the year’s biggest online spending day. Last year’s Cyber Monday saw consumers spend some $1.03 billion from the comfort of their own desks — the biggest online shopping day ever (source: Fastcompany.com).
As a reader of Unconsumption, it probably comes as no surprise to you that we encourage the mindful giving of gifts that are good for the planet. This year, like last year, Unconsumption, along with other organizations and bloggers, joins The Nature Conservancy in promoting the idea of “Green Gift Monday” in lieu of Cyber Monday.
The idea is pretty straight-forward: Consider making handmade gifts; or giving gift certificates redeemable for food or experiences or services; or buying items that are vintage; or donating to a charity in a gift recipient’s honor (e.g., “adopt” a coral reef and announce the gift via an e-card), instead of buying new (and perhaps less-meaningful) merchandise for family members, friends, business associates, and others this holiday season. That’s the general idea.
For other green-giving ideas and information, visit The Nature Conservancy’s Green Gift Monday – Gift Responsibly site here.”

This year I am only giving people things they have expressed a need for, things of sentimental value, and homemade goodies. Why give someone something they don’t need or won’t use much? Gifts should be about cherishing the people in your life and showing them you care. I think cookies and other homemade items say it better than anything I could find in a store. 


What are you making this year? 

Minimalism Documentary Review

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things since they first started talking about it at least a year ago. Despite my high expectations, the film didn’t disappoint.

Minimalism is a must see for anyone who wants a little inspiration to be less stressed, more fulfilled, and more connected with themselves and the people around them.

I went into the film feeling a bit like I’ve heard all of Joshua Fields Millburn’s and Ryan Nicodemus’ stories over and over. I was worried it would be another retelling of how they got into minimalism, but instead they crafted an incredible film full of fascinating people who have made their lives more meaningful. They didn’t even focus solely on the “stuff,” but rather they delved into how over-working and constantly distracting ourselves led us away from living the lives we want.

Minimalism was visually stunning. The scenery throughout was amazing, and the music was so good I’m hoping they release the soundtrack.

I also really enjoyed seeing what it was like for The Minimalists on their book tour a couple of years ago when a handful of people would attend and comparing to how many people show up now. People know who they are, and minimalism is clearly spreading.

From fast fashion to information overwhelm to expanding homes to fit all of our stuff, the film took a holistic look at our discontent and our consumption of all things. They delved into the environmental impact of our lifestyles, something they have avoided in the past, and put minimalism in the context of the global community instead of just inside our closets.

Despite it being a pretty heavy topic with terrifying footage of people fighting each other over Black Friday deals, there were times where I laughed. There were also so many times where I found myself nodding along and thinking ‘yes, that’s me.’

Of all of the many incredible people featured in the film, I really connected with Dan Harris, the author of 10% Happier and ABC news anchor. He and I are the over-worriers. The stressed-out over achievers. The ones who make ourselves sick because that’s what we do best.

“For a guy who spent his whole life worrying and thinking that my worrying was the edge I had over everybody else because I knew I was going to be more anxious more compulsive than any of my competitors, I realized that there is a certain amount of worrying that is what I call ‘constructive anguish’ and then there’s just useless rumination that’s just making you miserable.” Dan Harriss

I didn’t leave the theater transformed – perhaps I’m already past that point. But I did leave it comforted by how many other people sat in the theater next to me, nodding along and thinking about how they want to live more meaningful lives.

For more on The Minimalists, check out their blog, books, and podcast.

Road trip to L.A.

After an early Thanksgiving with my family I took a road trip with my friend to Los Angeles to reunite with our college roommate. I’ve never driven from San Francisco to L.A. before, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. As a child my family would often visit my grandparents in Reno and we drove to Oregon a few times, so I wasn’t too worried about being in the car for hours on end. I brought plenty of things to entertain me, and my friend made us a great playlist that made the six and a half hours go by quickly.

At one point all the time in the car was starting to get to me, so to stop my fidgeting, I decided to release some tightness in my calves on the dash board… totally normal…

Even though we left for L.A. a little before 11 a.m., by the time we were on the outskirts of the county, the sun was already almost down. Despite spending the majority of the day sitting in the car, we were exhausted and ready to stretch out for a bit. So we did what we always used to when we needed to lie down for a bit, jump on our roommate’s bed and be as obnoxious as possible. Despite being incredibly annoying, she still took us out to a delicious dinner and helped us to relax after a long day in the car by taking us to her apartment complex’s hot tub.

Before I had decided to go to L.A. I had my heart set on running a turkey trot. To make up for it, I did my own Thanksgiving morning. The only problem was that I was in a completely new area (the first time I had seen it was in the dark, so I was really unsure of where I was) and I tend to get lost… a lot. But instead of letting that stop me, I laced up and decided to wing it. Although it was a blast to get out and get to explore the neighborhood, it wasn’t as relaxing as my usual runs where I don’t have to pay attention to where I’m going or to street names to make sure that I make it back.

IMG_2426But after successfully navigating my way back, I was treated to a delicious breakfast at a local coffee shop/cafe that I desperately wanted to steal and bring with me back home. I had a vegetarian, crustless quiche that made me feel spoiled and yet like I was eating well. I also bought a hand pie that was later eaten before Thanksgiving dinner (in my defense we had healthy (and tasty) baked fruit for dessert so it was my only pie of the day).

IMG_2436Over the rest of the weekend I saw Black Friday first hand (it was simultaneously horrifying and depressing), went kayaking and paddleboarding (and did not fall in), and spent a lot of time with my not-actually-related family.

Before we said our said goodbyes on Sunday and headed back to real-life, we made another stop at the cafe for breakfast, and I couldn’t resist a chai tea and another hand pie for the road.

IMG_2468 IMG_2472IMG_2473 IMG_2474
What we didn’t realize was that everyone else who had decided to take a road trip down to Southern California would be driving back north with us. I kept telling myself that there was an accident in front of us, and once we pass that we would be free and clear. Lets just say that never happened. It took nine hours to get back to San Francisco, and despite some interesting bird flocks that did their best to entertain me, it was a long trip back home.