The B Corp Movement: Black Friday as a B Corp
Black Friday. The day where social media, emails, shop windows and more are all filled with ‘unbeatable deals’ in the Black Friday sales.
What started out as an American post-Thanksgiving tradition has now turned into an international sensation. I mean, who doesn’t love a bargain? But Black Friday isn’t all great deals and happy shoppers – there’s a dark side to it that is overlooked.
I think we can all put our hands up and say that we’ve once bought something – not because we needed it, but because the offer was ‘too good to miss’. Whether that be a pair of shoes that you really don’t need, or a blender that is going to sit in the cupboard and never get used. These items will sit there, barely touched, until the day we finally have a clear out, when they get thrown away for no real reason other than we didn’t need it anyway.
However, it’s that mindset that makes Black Friday the time for a detrimental impact on our environment. In fact, a 2019 study by Green Alliance found that up to 80% of Black Friday purchases, including their packaging, end up discarded after only a few uses – some without being used at all. These unwanted, cheap goods, crafted from poor-quality and unsustainable materials, find their way to landfills or meet their end in incinerators.
The surplus packaging, escalated carbon footprint from heightened transportation, and the sheer magnitude of discarded items contribute significantly to ecological distress. Moreover, the heightened demand for fast fashion and electronics during this period often involves exploitative production practices, adversely impacting workers in less affluent regions of the world. What was once emblematic of abundance has unwittingly transformed into a symbol of overconsumption, echoing far-reaching consequences.
For small businesses, Black Friday is another way they struggle to compete with corporate giants’ ‘huge discounts’. Falling into the consumerism trap, small businesses often feel they have to compete and ‘one up’ the corporate giants to win over customers, often resulting in financial reparations and underselling.
It’s estimated that this Black Friday, the UK will spend £8.74billion in the sales. That means that £6,992million of unwanted Black Friday purchases will end up in the bin in the near future. That money could have been put toward people who need it to survive this winter.
We’ve decided that this year, we are going to stand down from the Black Friday extravaganza and use this time to do good. Spacemade is proud to be certified as a B Corp business- but what does that mean?
Well, achieving B Corp Certification is a rigorous and thorough process that scrutinises every facet of our operations. Our performance is evaluated across five impact areas: workers, environment, customers, governance, and community. That includes things such as how we work toward a more sustainable and regenerative planet by reducing our footprint and putting their impact on the air, climate, water, land, and biodiversity first in their business practices, as well as how we contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which they operate.
Being a B Corp means adhering to a set of rigorous standards where we prioritise social and environmental responsibility over profit margins. Black Friday, typically synonymous with consumerism and mass discounts, clashes with the values embedded in B Corp certification. Instead of chasing short-term gains through excessive sales, a B Corp company considers the long-term impact on its workers, the environment, and the community.
Participating in Black Friday often involves producing and promoting excess consumer goods, contributing to environmental degradation and the wasteful culture of throwaway products. As a B Corp company, we are committed to sustainability. Therefore, engaging in Black Friday discounting, which typically encourages overconsumption and wasteful practices, goes against the ethos of a B Corp.
Moreover, the exploitative nature of production practices associated with Black Friday discounts (especially in industries like fast fashion) contradicts the commitment of B Corps to fair and ethical treatment of workers. B Corp certification requires companies to prioritise the well-being of their employees, ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and overall positive workplace environments. Participating in Black Friday, which often involves rushed production schedules and increased demands on workers, can compromise these principles.
In essence, for a B Corp company like Spacemade, Black Friday becomes a time for reflection and a demonstration of their commitment to being a force for good. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of short-term profits, Spacemade wants to use this time to reinforce its dedication to sustainability, ethical business practices, and community impact.
In short, running a Black Friday discount wouldn’t be very B Corp of us.
We wanted to use the day to make a stance. Instead of participating in the frenzy of discounts, we’ve decided to give back to the community that has supported us.
For every new member that signs up with Spacemade between now and Christmas, we will be donating £50 to In Kind Direct. Why? Because we believe in the power of community and making a positive impact.
Whilst Black Friday fuels a culture of excess, In Kind Direct do the opposite, directing surplus consumer products to charitable organisations, ensuring that people have everything they need to keep clean, safe and well. Everybody deserves life’s essentials, and no product should go to waste. In Kind Direct reach 249,000 every week, and with winter and the Christmas period fast approaching, people need help more than ever. Whether it be nappies, period products, toiletries, hot drinks or something else, In Kind Direct works hard to ensure that people will get what they need this winter. Read the 2022 Impact Report here.
Choosing not to engage in Black Friday discounts aligns with our B Corp values, emphasizing the importance of sustainability, community, and responsible business practices. We believe this approach is not only ethical but also reflects a genuine commitment to making a positive difference in the world.