White Monday – a counter movement to Black Friday

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Since 2017, White Monday has established itself as a counter-movement to the blind consumer madness that has also been happening in Germany for years, especially on Black Friday. Together with over-consumption, waste production and environmental pollution are also increasing.

In this article we want to talk about the false promises and true costs of Black Friday, and even more importantly: about the companies and initiators who boycott Black Friday and instead call for conscious consumption. The White Monday stands for sustainable use of resources, responsible consumption and recycling. 

How did our consumption change in the last decades and what has Black Friday to do with it?

With the emergence of the smartphone in our everyday lives, at the latest, our shopping behavior has changed radically. The possibility of shopping online leads to new possibilities, but also to a more uncontrolled consumer behavior. The vast quantities we consume here in the Global North continue to grow to dizzying heights. In countries of the Global South, too, the industrial boom is creating a demand for increased consumption, which we have long considered normal here. However, the problems caused by the expansion of our global consumption and throwaway behavior are striking. Short-lived products with huge amounts of waste and long supply chains mean serious consequences for our society and the environment. The World Watch Institute already declared global consumption to be the “number one climate killer” in 2010. This consumer behavior – the desire for more, the impulsive buying decision, the hunt for discount campaigns – finds its climax in the sheer rush to buy, which becomes the motto on certain days: The Black Friday. A few years ago, it spilled over from the USA to Germany and since then has been responsible for billions in retail sales here too. Consumers in Germany spent around 2.4 billion on Black Friday 2018. By now, the day of commercial excess is probably more popular, especially among young people, than some national holidays. It is a symbol of a consumer society that has become a reality, forgetting itself more and more and leaving all considerations behind.

Definition of White Monday and the impact of circular economy

A counter-movement of Black Friday, in which new hope is emerging, is called: White Monday. The idea came from Swedish start-up founder Henning Gillberg in 2017 and participation in the #whitemonday campaign has been growing tremendously ever since. According to him, in 2019 more than 200 companies, influencers and organisations have already taken part. But what is this counter-movement all about?

As an anti-Black-Friday, White Monday is different from other campaigns like Buy Nothing Day. White Monday does not demonise consumption itself, but sees it as a possibility. The reason for our decision to buy a new product is often that an old product – such as headphones, a smartphone or a piece of clothing – is broken. Instead of exclusively addressing our own consumption, White Monday focuses on this issue in order to benefit from the products we already own in the sense of a circular economy. Three principles are in the foreground: Reuse, Repair and Rent. Before we buy new products, the aim is to reuse, repair or rent out existing products and share them collectively.

The path to a more conscious consumption

On November 23rd it will be happening again. “Closed-loop” companies, including many second-hand shops, food rescuers (like the App Too Good To Go) and second-hand goods suppliers will show that not having to give up the purely commercial incentives of Black Friday does not necessarily mean the end of consumption. These companies will refrain from any Black Friday actions and with #whitemonday clearly position themselves for conscious consumption and a responsible contribution to a sustainable economy.

Even though fairafric does not provide a special White-Monday offer this year, it was our intention to report about this great movement. In line with our principles, the #whitemonday focuses on sustainable consumption, product longevity, focus on ethical values and proportionality. Recycling management is a model that points away from the desire to always want to have more, from a focus on what we don’t have, to a reflection on what we have. The central question now could be: Before we consume something new, what can we gain from what we have? And if we consume something new, how can we make its benefits compatible with us and the environment in the long term and in the best possible way? A bottom line could be: There is enough, as long as we do not forget ourselves in our shopping frenzy – because, in the spirit of the ancient philosopher Epicurus, it can be said: “Nothing is enough for those for whom enough is too little”. And who knows: If the whole world makes White Monday every day… maybe there would even be enough for everyone! Let’s give it a try!