How to bag a Black Friday ‘Bargain’ for a Brighter Future

We all love a bargain – whether it’s at the supermarket or a major purchase. The buzz that I get from ‘bagging a bargain’ makes me feel good not only about my purchase but also knowing that I have done my homework and researched the best buy.

However, the word ‘bargain’ has two meanings and I want to stress the importance of both meanings when you are caught up in the Black Friday buying frenzy this November.

Firstly, a bargain means getting something cheaper than expected. Whilst it is always satisfying to get something at a great price, I want to urge consumers to consider to actual ‘cost’ of this cheaper item. By ‘cost’ I mean, is it sustainable, is it impacting the environment, it is increasing carbon emissions, does it cause more pain and suffering to animals?  All items that we purchase have a cost to society and individuals, so it is down to us as consumers to try and minimise that cost in order to promote a brighter future for animals, people and the environment.

The second meaning of ‘bargain’ is to reach an agreement. Again, I urge consumers to make an agreement with their shopping conscience and to agree to buy better and buy more sustainably this Black Friday – and for your everyday purchases. ACTAsia wants to promote consumer behaviour change. If we can encourage consumers to agree to buy better, then we are one step forward in creating a more sustainable way to live.

Speaking about fashion at United Nations conference

ACTAsia is a passionate advocate for promoting sustainable fashion, and has been accepted by the UN into the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network. I was recently asked to speak at the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network conference. The webinar ‘Crafting a Sustainable Future Through Fashion and Lifestyle’ welcomed speakers from business, trade organisations and new material producers. I was thrilled to be amongst other promoters for change who all spoke passionately about the role of fashion and sustainability.   

pile of clothes
A Thought-Provoking Display at ACTAsia’s 9th Compassion in Fashion Forum: An artistic installation vividly illustrates the mounting crisis of clothing waste, inviting visitors to reflect on the impacts of consumerism and Fast Fashion

What does fashion cost to the environment?

The toll of fashion on sustainability was at the heart of the webinar. Indeed, many consumers are unaware that fashion is a huge contributor to animal suffering, environmental issues and social justice and equality issues. The rise in ‘fast fashion’ is having a severe impact on the environment. ‘Fast fashion’ relies on cheap labour, mass production and a rapid turnover of clothing styles. The pressure from industry to reduce costs and speed up production time means that environmental corners are more likely to be cut. Fast fashion’s negative impact includes its use of cheap, toxic textile dyes – making the fashion industry the one of the largest polluters of clean water globally. 

air pollution
The rise in ‘fast fashion’ is having a severe impact on the environment

Promoting ‘slow fashion’ – a true ‘bargain’

This Black Friday, I want to encourage consumers to adopt a ‘slow fashion’ approach to their purchases. As global charity Oxfam explains: ‘The slow fashion movement is a direct response to the harmful impact of fast fashion on the environment and garment workers. It advocates for making fashion choices that are kinder to people and planet’

So why not try and find a ‘bargain’ that is a timeless, better-quality design rather than a trend-driven piece destined for the landfill after a few wears. By investing a little more in slow fashion consumers will be bagging themselves a bargain as the item will last longer and maybe, in time, will be considered a sought-after vintage item. By pursuing slow fashion, you will be promoting brands that focus on producing clothes made from sustainable materials like organic and recycled cotton, organic linen and hemp. These materials come from plant material, often use less water in production and are biodegradable at the end of their life.

Why buying and wearing fur is a huge cost to health

Also discussed on the webinar was the major fashion faux-pas of fur farming. This inhumane practice is harmful not only for the environment but also for animals and humans. Producing feed for the millions of fur farmed animals comes with a severe ecological footprint. Huge energy reserves are also used from transporting feed to fur farms, shipping the animal pelts to international auctions and on to dressers, dyers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and finally to the consumer. 

ACTAsia has long been campaigning to reduce – and eventually see a ban – of fur farming in China and globally. Fur is an unnecessary material for products that are no longer needed in society. What’s more, fur causes pain and suffering to millions of animals intensively farmed each year, puts people at risk of harm through disease or toxic chemicals and the whole process damages the environment. We simply cannot afford to continue this practice and claim we have a sustainable world. 

vegan fashion accessory
A showcase of an accessory crafted from alternative materials, demonstrating a sustainable and cruelty-free replacement for animal byproducts in fashion

Educating a new generation ‘into the bargain’

ACTAsia recognises that education is the key to equipping children, consumers and professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to create a more compassionate world. ACTAsia’s award-winning, Caring for Life education programs, allow us to create long-term sustainable change within institutions through schools, higher education institutions and professional bodies. ACTAsia’s Caring for Life education contributes towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Choose your ‘bargains’ wisely to promote a sustainable future

So, when buying this Black Friday, do your research for the best ‘bargain’ for our planet. Slow and circular fashion, upcycling, reusing, the reduction in consumption, and banning fur farming will all help in promoting a sustainable future. 

For me, educating a new generation about the dangers of fast fashion and fur farming on our global health is key to societal change. ACTAsia wants to help consumers understand that a true ‘bargain’ in life is buying something that helps to protect animals, people and the environment and promotes sustainability.

So why not make a bargain with yourself this Black Friday, do your research, and agree to buy better, even better by donate all or part of your Black Friday shopping budget to a charity like ACTAsia!

Pei Su, is a Chinese sociologist, and co- Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ACTAsia, an international NGO established in 2006. She is a strong advocate of education and training as the main vehicle for long term sustainability, aiming to inspire people to understand and appreciate the world we share, and to take responsibility for the protection and preservation of its inhabitants and resources.