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Black Friday, an annual event for American shoppers, paradoxically comes right after a day of giving thanks for all that we have in life.  The widespread phenomena of getting special deals on Black Friday can pull almost any consumer in for FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT), making people feel that they are missing out on incredible savings while simultaneously sending the message that buying more for less is better. The commercialization of the season is hard to escape when growing up in the United States, as gift giving almost takes center stage for Christmas and Hanukkah.  This holiday season, I ask you to reconsider and take some time to reflect:
What is most meaningful to you during the holidays?

What do you want to teach your children or grandchildren?

What impact will your way of celebrating have on your finances, on others, and the planet? 

Growing up, I recall looking forward to all of the deals at my favorite stores. It was an event that my sister and I would make plans for during Thanksgiving (even though my mom was not a fan), carefully planning out where we wanted to go shopping! At the time, I didn’t think much about what my actions supported, like the fast fashion industry that has major negative environmental impacts.
For those who may be unware, fast fashion consists of cheap, poor quality textiles, made quickly by big brands to mimic the latest fashion trends. Constant marketing to consumers makes them feel like they need to continually buy the latest trend. However, practicing mindfulness while holiday shopping will not only save you money, but also help save the planet. Fast fashion brands like Forever 21 and Zara produce products that utilize non-renewable resources at unsustainable rates. 

These companies contribute to the microplastic pollution that damages aquatic ecosystems, and the most prominent fabric in clothing – cotton – requires intensive chemical agricultural inputs to grow. On top of all the environmental impacts are the social issues this industry has capitalized on by using outsourced, underpaid factory workers. These impacts don’t come to mind when you’re at the mall or shopping online, so don’t blame yourself.  Truth be told, I think my sister and I bought as much stuff for ourselves as we did for others, or even more! We drank the Kool-Aid of consumerism from TV, internet, and social media. 
Fortunately, many consumers are realizing this is not a sustainable mindset and are refusing to shop or promote this craze. Rather than shopping on Black Friday, let’s partake in creating Green Friday—a day to continue celebrating what we already have and what we can give to others without harming the planet! 
There are many ways to celebrate Green Friday, like giving back to the planet, creating homemade holiday gifts, or connecting with your community and have fun.  Here are a few ideas:
 Plant something! Potted flowers and herbs can be given as a gift. You can even decorate the pot, too.Use your interest as a source of homemade gift inspiration!Repurpose old clothes or donate them!Host a clothing swap with friends!Give a gift that gives: Donate to a family member’s favorite charity as a holiday gift.Check out what events are going on near you: planting trees, community yoga class, beach clean-up!Shop brands who support Green Friday and maintain sustainable supply chains: TentreePatagonia and others.Shop Handmade, Local items: Participate in Small Business SaturdaySimply stay home and give the gift of presence to someone who needs it, perhaps you! 
Holidays should be a time to spend with those you love and/or doing activities that bring you joy! When shopping, be mindful of what type of production pathway your purchases took to end up in your hands. I have recently started to practice “Does this bring me joy?” when shopping. If you hesitate, it’s a no! This is also true for gift giving. I believe people appreciate something you made or put thought into much greater than receiving an expensive new outfit. 
Don’t be afraid to change it up this year! Be a leader that stands for what they believe. Green Friday for me will probably include taking our dogs to the beach, crafting, and enjoying a yummy plant-based meal as a family. 
Share what your #GreenFriday plans are on social media to spread the word and initiate a consciously consuming domino effect! 

May all readers be safe, healthy, truly happy and FREE.  Happy Thanksgiving from myself and the Sacred Treehouse treehugging staff!
“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”
Lizzie Shutt

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She also is the creator of Consciously Connecting, a lifestyle blog that embraces environmentalism, mindfulness, and a plant-based lifestyle. She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.