He really has a lot in black, it seems like the name was put there on purpose. They say that the term originated in Philadelphia because of the large mass of people who came to shop the day after Thanksgiving and because the numbers in the stores “went from red to black” because of the huge purchases on that day. However, I think the black of Black Friday is much more striking in other ways, much more so in the consequences of the seemingly harmless act of consumption.
Why is Black Friday so black?
Empty. Black hole. Destruction. These are some terms in which I find a great similarity for what I consider the identity of Black Friday. Three qualifiers, three world problems. I’m going to explain one by one: us, the others and nature.
We have too much stuff. Now even a new business has started to become popular: warehouse companies! Every time I find another ad like this I’m horrified. It seems that they have seen the light of day because of the growing need to leave things in safekeeping that no longer even fit in our own home. I think this is a good indication that something is not going well. Isn’t it ironic? Everything is full of things, but at the same time everything seems so empty…
Not only do we consume without control and measure, but most of the products we demand do not make use of them too quickly, and on top of that we store them, waiting for the day when perhaps we can find a use for them. Having so many things at our disposal not only prevents us from appreciating them and valuing them properly, but also means that our time is inevitably divided up to enjoy them and attend to them all, causing stress and anxiety. In the end, our things become a burden and we feel the need to get rid of them!
Perhaps it would be interesting to realize that money is a tool, but what we are really paying for the things we buy with is our time. That valuable time that you have invested working to earn that money, is time of your life, vital time. If we apply this vision every time we go shopping, perhaps we will better question whether it is worth it. What if we invest that money in something that fills us up, that fascinates us? What if we share wonderful experiences with someone important to us?
A wise person often reminds me how much he likes the word “simplicity”. He always tells me: keep it simple! Now I apply it to consumption, let’s simplify our life! To value our money is to value our time, and to value our time is to value our life, to value us. Please, let us use our time wisely.
Black hole: the others
And can you tell who the others are? Well, they are all those hands that have passed through that product you bought. After all, we live in an enormously globalized world, never before in the history of mankind have we been so connected. That means that every material, element or component that is part of our purchases has been worked on by a large number of different people, even from different countries. But what about the hands of those people who made your new or next purchase? Were they happy hands? What conditions did they work in? Did they earn a decent wage? Or were their rights being violated?
Unfortunately this is more than the order of the day, and it affects millions of people around the world. Not having better opportunities to earn a living, they accept jobs that violate even human dignity. Even if it is not pleasant to read, we are encouraging their circumstances to remain that way or even to get worse thanks to our purchases. With so much consumer demand for low priced products we are condemning these wonderful people to a hole, a black hole, logically with no way out. We must remember that they are also human beings, and the only thing that differentiates them from us is that they were born in different conditions and in a different place, nothing more and nothing less. Their time and their lives are of exactly the same value as ours.
In the end it is these people who are paying the true price for our cheap purchases, with their living conditions, let us not forget. Normally we are rarely paying a fair price, and this, without a doubt, cannot be considered fair to anything or anyone, not even to ourselves.
To make a more realistic judgment of the impact of blind consumption on the environment, we must remember that we have already exceeded the planet’s resource limit for the entire world population a few months ago, and we are determined to continue to mortgage the Earth’s resources!
Every product requires raw materials to be manufactured, naturally extracted from the natural environment. In turn, these elements will be modified in the production chain by passing from one product to another, requiring energy, water or chemical compounds, among many other resources. This generates waste products of varying degrees of danger, which normally end up in the environment as they are not properly treated or purified, contaminating ecosystems and damaging human health. Finally, it is necessary to transport both the raw materials, the elements necessary for the manufacture of the product and the product itself with the consequent emission of greenhouse gases, ultimately promoting climate change.
The truth is that we are entirely dependent on the health of the environment for our survival. Although what motivates us to protect it is usually a selfish concern for survival, we should seriously consider our relationship with nature. I am more in favour of the position in which the natural environment, and any form of life, has by itself a unique, incomparable and unrepeatable intrinsic value. We should not need anything else as an engine of reason to promote its conservation. However, given the situation of the current ecological crisis, we must take giant steps towards a much more conscious coexistence with the environment and all living beings that live with us. If we want to go further, we can even see it from an ethical perspective, it is our responsibility! It remains true that we are destroying nature with the consumption of the world’s population, including our own, of course.
I always maintain and defend that I have an unwavering faith in the good being of the human being, and despite the negative connotation that this article may seem to have, it has not changed in the least. I simply want to make a clear and direct appeal to the problems caused by excessive consumption and actions such as Black Friday, to carry a little of the burden of responsibility for our own consumption on our backs and to reflect on the connection we are making with ourselves, others and nature. I have no doubt that if much of humanity did the latter, we would make the world a much better place.