It’s just 10 days until a spending frenzy descends upon the Australian retail sector as consumers prepare to fork out big bucks on Black Friday sales, but a growing number of Aussie businesses are spruiking an environmental twist on the day known as Green Friday.
Initially, Green Friday co-founder Peter Krideras tells SmartCompany, the team aimed to get 100 ethical Aussie brands on board with the movement this year, but he says the team have been “overwhelmed” by the market response.
Some 150 homegrown businesses, including King Living, Felix Mobile, Appliances Online, Camilla, Flora & Fauna, Hype DC, Salvo Stores, Pottery for the Planet, and Seed & Sprout, have qualified for this year’s event to offer sustainable and ethically produced products at a slashed cost.
The concept of Green Friday, now into its second year, began in 2021 when Krideras and his team were discussing a possible Black Friday strategy at his sustainable rental marketplace called Releaseit, where people can rent fashion, party and events gear, campervans, exercise equipment and more.
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“We didn’t feel that participating in an event, one that promotes frenzied consumerism, was well aligned to our purpose of disrupting retail consumerism on behalf of the planet,” Krideras recalled.
Green Friday was born. It’s a four-day online retail event kicking off on November 18 that encourages Australians to ditch the click madness of Black Friday in favour of more mindful and considerate online shopping (while still scoring some good deals, of course).
But business participation in the Green Friday movement comes with strict rules: each business has to list its commitment and impact across a number of green measures to satisfy sustainability criteria, which is then showcased back to the consumer so they can be sure of their purchase power.
The rise of Green Friday comes amid a groundswell of support for ethical consumerism in Australia and beyond. A June report from Bain & Company, which surveyed 11,000 consumers in 11 countries, found two in five Australians were planning to increase their spending on sustainable products in the next three years.
And with some 9.6 million Australians gearing up to spend an average of $375 each on sale days Black Friday, Boxing Day and Cyber Monday, according to Finder, there are plenty of consumers to lure to the green side ahead of the gift-giving season.
So who are these shoppers? Gen X mostly, who told Finder they expect to spend an average of $450, while gen Z will spend $418, millennials $320 and baby boomers $262, buying clothing and shoes (69%), electronics and gadgets (36%), food and alcohol (25%), and furniture (17%).
“Green Friday as a concept takes consumers on these retailer journeys and allows them to shop sustainability-focused deals that align with what’s important to them based on a public-facing framework that we have developed,” Krideras said.
“This means that consumers can choose to support brands that align with what is important to them, whether that is environmental policies, sustainable certifications and more.”
But with many environmentally-conscious Australians rejecting mass consumerism in favour of a minimalist approach, is a Green Friday spending frenzy good for the planet? Ambassador and investor in Green Friday Julie Mathers tells SmartCompany that, for most of us, it’s really just about making better choices.
“As a human race we aren’t perfect,” she said.
“We’re going to consume this time of the year so it’s much better to highlight those brands giving back than those who contribute very little to the planet or society.”
Plus, she adds, “there are different ways to think about a frenzy”. Mathers, who founded Flora & Fauna, has moved onto a new business venture Snuggle Hunny where 10% of the revenue of her new collection goes to the Wheen Bee Foundation.
“At the end of the day, by default, we are all consumers,” he said.
“For consumers, it can be overwhelming and feel like the choice is to either keep doing what they’re doing (with a majority of Australians shopping fast-fashion) and ignore the planet, or, turn themselves into hermits and reject the modern world.
“We simply want to encourage Australian consumers to buy better.”
Krideras says the future is bright for the movement. He’s exploring opportunities to take the Green Friday event global, and launch “new events that align with our framework to continue to live true to our purpose”.
Could a partnership with Amazon really be so far away? Founder and Amazon chair Jeff Bezos announced yesterday he would be donating most of his $124 billion net worth to fighting climate change, as well as peace-making efforts.
Bezos, who is the fourth-richest person in the world, has already committed $10 billion over 10 years, or about 8% of his current net worth, to the Bezos Earth Fund.
In the CNN interview, Bezos also encouraged consumers and business owners to pull back on excess spending ahead of a looming possible recession, another apparent brand alignment for Green Friday.
“Take some risk off the table,” Bezos told CNN.
“Keep some dry powder on hand…. Just a little bit of risk reduction could make the difference for that small business, if we do get into even more serious economic problems. You’ve got to play the probabilities a little bit.”