We all love a bargain, it’s true. And there’s no need to be apologetic about it. But in the crazy, mad rush for cut-price possessions that we’ve come to love and hate in equal measure that is Black Friday, is it really possible to go for these bargains and net yourself a good deal, without feeling dirty – and unnecessarily poorer – afterwards?
So blinkers on, heads down. Stick to our golden rules, and Black Friday, in fact Christmas shopping generally, won’t leave you feeling blue.
GOLDEN RULE 1:
- Only buy things you would have bought anyway. It’s not a bargain if you are spending money you would not otherwise have spent, is it? You’re quids DOWN on the deal.
GOLDEN RULE 2:
- Assess the cost per use of the item to work out its true value. Cheap might look like a bargain, but it’s not if you only wear it twice because it’s a bit crap really, is it? This is your excuse to spend a bit more on quality. The cost per wear or cost per use is your guide to true value – not the price label you see.
GOLDEN RULE 3:
- Work out what are needs, and what are wants. There’s a lot of novelty nonsense around at this time of year and retailers’ very existence depends on their ability to tempt you, so that is what they do, with a bombardment of marketing via post, email, sidebars – you name it, they will make their way into your consciousness because they know their target market. So this line between needs and wants can become very blurred and it’s up to you to be strict and really straighten it out.
GOLDEN RULE 4:
- Create a budget, make a list of all of the people you need to buy for and what (roughly) you would like to buy for them. Then, divide that budget up accordingly. It might mean that Auntie Pam only gets a pair of socks, but she’ll be happy with that, honestly.
GOLDEN RULE 5:
- This one only applies if you have kids under 3. Take it from us, they don’t care what’s in their presents, they just want lots of them. So go to a charity shop and go crazy on things priced at £3 or less. It’s the cheapest and most guilt-free way to bulk up their present corner on Christmas day. And then it doesn’t matter whether they play with them or not.
GOLDEN RULE 6:
- See the words ethical, local, fairtrade, eco or organic, and if it is something you would get anyway and doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount more, then go for that. You will be making a smaller contribution to tat mountain, reducing transportation miles, buying quality (probably), and generally doing the world a favour. Amazon has its place, but may we suggest limiting it to 10% of your total supply source this Christmas.
GOLDEN RULE 7:
- One for me, one for the foodbank or shelter. Go ahead and go nuts buying things for family and friends, but don’t forget about those in greater need. The use of foodbanks in the UK has risen significantly over the last few years, so you can really do your bit for your local community if you consider some additional purchases for the foodbank or shelter. Or, if you like the look of anything on the EthicalSuperstore.com, they are running a great promotion to donate a grocery item to the UK’s busiest food bank for every order over £30 this Black Friday. The offer will run from Thursday 24th November to midnight on Monday 28th November. It ran a similar offer last year and donated 1,576 grocery items to the Newcastle West End food bank.
… For 4 more ways to go green instead of black on some of the big things that you might be buying this Black Friday:
- Consumer electricals
Some of the best deals are to be had in this sector. And for days if not weeks we’ve seen the big retailers trail their top offers in advance of the big day. If you have got your eye on big-ticket white goods or the latest 3D-HD-LED-LCD-plasma, it’s worth bearing in mind a couple of points.
- Ensure it’s an A or B-rated appliance to be as energy-efficient as possible. According to the Energy Saving Trust, an A-rated 180-litre fridge freezer could cost only £39 a year to run, whereas a significantly larger 525-litre fridge freezer with a better A+-rating could cost only £51 a year to run.
- Choose a TV that has auto-standby as standard to make the nightly switch-off a little easier.
- Opt for an ECO kettle, that boils only the amount of water required and can use 20 per cent less energy than a conventional electric kettle. On average a UK household boils the kettle 1,500 times a year.
- Remember – the larger a television, the more energy it consumes, regardless of its energy rating. For instance, an A-rated 22″ LCD TV would typically cost £4 a year to run whereas an A-rated 60″ TV would cost £33. Choosing a smaller TV generally means choosing a more efficient TV.
Many high-street retailers are running Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers – they might not be labelled Black Friday but there will be discounts. But have you ever stopped to think about the fair-fashion credentials of this season’s hottest little black dress? It doesn’t necessarily have to cost the earth – in either sense. You may even be surprised at some of the names below.
- People Tree
- New Look
Campaign group Labour Behind the Label has a fantastic guide on fashion retailers’ sustainable and ethical credentials.
3. Department store goods
Some department stores are more green than others, for various reasons. You’re probably aware of:
- John Lewis’ partnership status, which offers its more than 88,000 employees the chance to share in its success. The store is also committed to the Ethical Trading Initiative and sustainable sourcing
- Marks & Spencer’s plan A, which covers responsible sourcing, waste reduction and help for communities, not to mention its Schwopping initiative, which allows shoppers buying something new to place old clothing items in a Shwop Drop box to be passed onto Oxfam.
- House of Fraser is offering some of the best deals this four-day period. Its ethical credentials might be better than you think, too.
4. Food and booze
One of the UK’s Black Friday pioneers, Asda, announced that yet again it will not be offering any Black Friday deals (fistfights at the deli counter?) – but that’s not to say it won’t have any discounts available.
Significant discounting on food also raises the question of increased food waste, so we applaud Asda’s approach – although it scores lowest on Ethical Consumer’s list of most ethical supermarkets.
Those of you seeking a good deal on Christmas food and drink could do worse than look at local food producers and farmers’ markets offering meat or veg offers and organic or bio-dynamic wine (there are no less than 26 different organic bottles on offer with Ocado, for instance). Or you can check out Ethical Consumer’s list of most ethical supermarkets.
So go on, get stuck in, indulge in a Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, but only if it’s mixed in with a bit of green.