Ethical things to do instead of shopping this Black Friday

A few weeks ago I realised that Black Friday was well and truly on its way. The swipe up links started appearing on Instagram stories. The sale threads popped up on twitter more and more frequently. The internet was entering into a collective near-hysteria facing the prospect of being able to bag that jumper they've had their eye on for 50% off. But for the first time ever, I wasn't excited.

The whole thing has made me feel a little bit sad.

Over the past 12 months my shopping habits have changed drastically. Whilst a year ago I would have been loading up my laptop and bookmarking anything and everything that caught my eye on highstreet websites in the hopes that it would be reduced by the time midnight hit, this year I will be steering clear of the sales. Learning that fast fashion is one of the world's largest polluters (second only to the oil industry) and that it frequently mistreats its workers, sometimes even to the point of death, completely changed the way I shop. I really started to think about the hands that were actually making my clothes, instead of just whether they were cheap or trendy enough.

As exhilarating as Black Friday can be, I can't help but feel like it is a magnification of what is already a huge problem: Our over-consumption within the world of fashion. As I've said before, as consumers our power lies in our money. If we choose to contribute to a day dedicated to selling unethical clothing at an even cheaper price, we are funding the continuation of this industry's harmful practises. We are telling business that we care more about getting a lower price than we do about whether our clothing is ethical.  

As someone who used to fully embrace it, I understand that it's easy to get swept up into the 'buy everything with a sale tag!!!' mentality. Even if it is a pair of trousers that are 3 sizes too small with sequins on them. So, whether you're joining my Black Friday Abstinence Party (I welcome you with open arms and party poppers) or still want to treat yourself to a few bargains, here are some simple ways to make your sale week that little bit more ethical. 

Donate to a charity shop

If you are going to treat yourself to something new during the Black Friday sales, consider having a one-in-one-out policy. Any time you buy something new, donate something old to a charity shop. Not only will this make you seriously consider whether you "totally need" an item, but it's an easy way to contribute to positive causes. If you live in London, consider donating to a TRAID charity shop who use their profits to fund work that reduces the environmental and social impact of fast fashion.

Watch the "True Cost" 

Instead of using your laptop to hunt down bargains, log your booty onto Netflix and watch "The True Cost". Trust me, it will completely change the way that you view your clothes buying habits. For me, education was the first step I took towards making more ethically conscious consumer choices.

How cruel is your wardrobe?

After educating myself on how truly cruel the fast fashion industry is, the next thing to do was to face up to my consumer habits. I looked at every single item of clothing I owned alongside the Fashion Transparency Index to analyse how much of my wardrobe was ethical, getting there or completely unethical. The results were pretty shocking. However, this allowed me to set goals for myself. Only by getting to grips with my current habits did I know exactly how I needed to improve.

Shop second hand 

Shopping second hand is one of my favourite ways of reducing my contribution to the fast fashion industry. I've discovered that charity shops and good ol' Depop house pretty much every item of clothing that I could possibly desire. Except maybe knickers, because that's a little bit gross. The best part is that it works out to be ridiculously cheap in comparison to shopping on the highstreet. No need for a 50% off sale!

Learn to embroider 

Every time I see an item of embroidered clothing on the highstreet, I feel pretty damn smug as I think to myself "I could totally make that". While I'm no expert yet, learning to embroider has helped me to re-vamp old clothes without having to buy a whole new wardrobe. I even made this cute "Intersectional Feminist" T-shirt which doesn't make me feel icky every time I wear it.

Instead of fighting through the crowds in Topshop, why not start learning how to embroider? It's a lot more relaxing, I promise.

Support actually feminist companies 

I implore you, don't buy "Feminist" slogan t-shirts from the highstreet. Black Friday or any other dya. As I've said before, feminism sells and brand know it. But that doesn't mean that they are embracing female empowerment. Instead, give your money to truly feminist companies that are run by incredible women. I recommend my favourites here. 


  1. Great tips here Bethany - I definitely didn't feel the excitement for Black Friday this year (I totally forgot about it until last Tuesday) - mainly because I don't really need or want anything right now - so it was great and interesting to read your post. Your information on ethical clothing is really enlightening - I honestly wouldn't have even thought about it for not reading your posts on it - and it's really made me consider where to start shopping!

    Also learning to embroid is such a great idea - you can make such lovely clothing!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

    1. Thanks Josie! It's so easy not to think about these things but I'm glad I could help a little bit :) xx

  2. I have to say, this Black Friday I am feeling SO overwhelmed with all the links and discount codes flying around, I'm starting to WANT to shop more independently, for small businesses that need and deserve the income xxx

    1. YES! Me too, Natalie. I definitely felt like it was all a bit much xx

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  4. Hi. I just want to express my gratitude to bloggers like you who are using their platforms to voice out these important matters. People like you made me more determine to become a responsible human being living with less.