How To Have A Better Black Friday

Black Friday is a polarizing day. Either you plan to shop ’til you drop, or you boycott the day and the culture of consumerism all together. At different times in my life, I’ve been on both sides of the argument.

As a teenager, I used to beg to be taken out shopping for Black Friday. Walk among the shiny beautiful things, which, for this one day only, even pleebs like me could afford? Yes, please.

After I graduated from college and moved out on my own, I decided that it was easier to slot myself into the anti-consumerism camp. I was too broke to buy anything, anyway, and being broke felt better when I could frame it as a sort of political statement.

Now, I’m somewhere in the middle. As a advocate for minimalism and slow fashion, I don’t really have that same old desire to head to the outlet mall and scout out all the best deals (on things I really don’t need…), but at the same time, I keep a close watch on brands that I love to see if any of them are planning to offer sales during this popular shopping weekend (spoiler alert: many of them are!).

I’m also trying to remember that there’s more to the weekend than shopping or not shopping, or sitting at home and eating leftovers while reading think-pieces on the internet about shopping or not shopping. Here, I’m rounding up my recommendations for what you can do to have a better Black Friday, one that doesn’t have to be preoccupied by shopping and can maybe even do a little good for your community and the planet.

Support Ethical & Sustainable Businesses

In all the conversations about anti-consumerism around the holidays, we sometimes forget that small businesses and ethical and sustainable shops rely on this weekend to bring in sales, too. I’ve talked to a few small makers who are hoping that Black Friday will bring some good fortune to their businesses this holiday season, and for that reason, I’m going to post a small round-up of sales from businesses that I love and want to support.

If you’ve been planning on picking up a gift for someone (or, let’s be real, for yourself) this weekend, these ethical and sustainable shops are a great place to start. I’ll update this section with sales from more makers as I learn about them through the weekend and into Cyber Monday.

  • Coat Check Chicago – is offering a whopping 40% off this bomber jacket on from November 22-26 with discount code FORTY. (I wrote about this coat earlier this fall, here). Coat Check Chicago is an ethical and sustainable women’s outerwear company based in Chicago, IL. Liz Williams, the owner, hand makes the coats herself.


  • Loyale Studio – is offering 25% off on November 23-26 with case-sensitive code holidaytime2018. The model below is wearing Style No. 1 in stripe (I have one in black and I can attest to the fact that it is the comfiest tee in the universe). Loyale is a fair-trade clothing start-up based in North Carolina, and the clothing is produced in a worker owned co-op.

Copy of RodneyBrownforLoyale

  • Everlane – famously does not have sales on Black Friday, but donates proceeds from any sales made on the day to a cause they support. Last year, they built organic gardens for their denim factory in Vietnam to provide healthful meals to their factory workers; this year, they’re donating $260,000 to clean up 20,000 lbs of plastic beach litter. My husband has been not-so-subtly hinting that he’d like one of the new waffle knit crew shirts for Christmas this year, so I’ll use Black Friday as an opportunity to pick that up for him – a great gift for my husband and a little less garbage on the shoreline.
  • Tradlands – is offering $15 off flannels (including the Finch “Friendship” flannel, seen below on Katie Tingley, me, Andrea Jarrett, and Kellie Hayden) AND an additional 20% off select items with code BF20. The sale runs through Monday, November 26. Seeing this post after Black Friday? You can still save 15% off your first Tradlands purchase any time of the year with my code, GOBLINSHARK15.LRM_EXPORT_632554306377706_20181103_110440491
  • Organic Basics – is offering 25% off everything, plus, every order will go towards cleaning up 30 kilos (about 66 lbs) of trash from urban waterways. Organic Basics makes basics like t-shirts, underwear, socks, and now even active wear, from organic cotton and recycled nylon. For the best possible deal, I recommend going with one of their awesome packs. You can save 15% off any time of the year with my personal discount code GOBLINSHARK_XOBFR15.

Donate to a Good Cause

Buying things on Black Friday is the custom, but there are other things you can do with your money that are more meaningful this holiday season. Making a donation to an organization that someone cares about is a wonderful holiday gift. Here are a few that I recommend:

The Wildfire Relief Fund of the California Community Foundation – donations are used to support those who have lost their homes, possessions, or employment due to the California wildfires, or who have suffered physical and/or mental health problems as a result of the fires. Funds are also used to help rebuild homes, provide case management services, and so much more.

The Body Positive – An organization committed to helping people heal from the harmful effects of negative body image, including eating disorders, depression, substance abuse, relationship violence, and suicide. The Body Positive focuses especially on the health and well being of teens and young adults. As a reminder, Thanksgiving can be a triggering holiday for people who are suffering from the consequences of negative body image – if you can’t afford to donate, one small thing you can do is to challenge toxic discussions about food and bodies (i.e. fat shaming, diet talk, negative body talk) at your own holiday table this year.

Navajo Water Project – Let’s not forget that Thanksgiving is actually a holiday with a violent history against native people. Did your elementary school have you dress up as Pilgrims and Indians and put on a play about the first Thanksgiving? Mine sure did, and somehow, this is still happening in 2018. Meanwhile, 40% of Navajo people are living without access to clean, running water. The Navajo water project helps to bring water to Navajo communities in the form of wells, water trucks, and home water systems. The organization hopes to raise $485,000 this holiday season to bring water to the remote town of Navajo Mountain, UT.

Get Involved In A Community Activity

You know what feels a lot better than a new sweater? Spending time with your family and the people in your community to do some good. Go to a soup kitchen or a food bank and help bring meals to the underserved. Run a coat drive. Help out at an animal shelter. Better yet, sign up to volunteer all year round.

This year, I’ve convinced my family to join me and United by Blue in their Blue Friday initiative to clean up local parks and waterways. United by Blue is a sustainable clothing company that makes outdoor apparel from recycled materials, and for every garment sold, they clean up one pound of trash from the ocean. Instead of having a sale on clothing this year, they are providing kits to help you set up a clean-up project in your own community. The physical kits are no longer available, but the free digital kit is available for download on the United by Blue website.


I live along the banks of the Potomac River, which is notoriously dirty, so this Black Friday I plan to bundle up and head out with my family to take a walk and collect as much trash as we can. It’s as easy as that, and even if you don’t download the kit, getting out there with a trash bag and a pair of gloves is a great way to give something back to your community and get a little post-Turkey day (or Tofurkey day) exercise while you’re at it.

I probably will shop a little this Black Friday (even I can’t resist 20% off at Glossier…), but I also plan to donate a little, give a little of my time to the environment, and spend a little time with my family. What are your plans to have a better Black Friday this year?

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from purchases made using these links.


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