“These are difficult times for sustainable entrepreneurs but let's choose alternatives like Green Friday or Circular Monday and turn our backs on the overconsumption of Black Friday”, writes Niki de Schryver from the sustainable fashion platform COSH!.

Two years ago, when COSH was launched, we proclaimed Black Friday to be ‘Repair, Restyle and Rethink Friday’. This initiative was launched as a counterweight to the completely insane overconsumption that gives us at COSH! goosebumps. Recent news about the gigantic garment mountain that is dumped every year in Atacama, shows again that we need to continue to inform customers. We only need to buy what we need and it has to be sustainable, carefully thought out and something that we will cherish and wear for years.

Being allowed to write an opinion piece on Black Friday and its counterparts Circular Monday and Green Friday makes me proud on one hand, but on the other hand I have to admit that the subject does not make me happy. I am writing this piece on a grey day and my mood is as grey as the sky. This weekend, I have been told by at least three circular or sustainable entrepreneurs that they will have to quit after a few years of business. The fourth wave and accompanying measures are once again hitting hard. The pandemic is too much for entrepreneurs who were struggling and asked to be extremely flexible. Now that a lot of Christmas fairs are cancelled, for some entrepreneurs, this means the end of their story.

Due to Corona, many physical shopping events fell through and start-ups could only count on online sales. Connecting and talking to a customer and passing on their story and sustainable message is so crucial for new brands and eco-entrepreneurs. On the internet, you have to catch the customer's attention. The big retail giants throw discounts in order to include the customer's Christmas budget in their turnover. Regardless of whether they have a useful margin left at all.

Black Friday is therefore the perversion of nauseating business models and greed. Greed on the part of the companies, that prefer growth in volume and turnover to sustainable and social enterprise, and the greed of customers who are blinded by the bargains.

The proliferation of discounts increases price pressure and not only affects employees and workers in distant countries but also puts pressure on our local employment in the retail sector. Both for the many underpaid photographers and makeup artists and for flexijobbers, who, according to the latest reports, are being called in to work in the store for a day. But also for the entrepreneurs who run a business by themselves. They buy the clothes, make their own pictures and do their own online marketing. It is impossible for them to give up an even larger piece of that margin and participate in the merry-go-round.

Green Friday & Circular Monday

Fortunately, a dissenting voice is also echoing. As a counterpoint to Black Friday, Cyber Monday or cyber week, many entrepreneurs created Green Friday. In 2017, on Monday, November 22nd, four days before Black Friday, was declared Circular Monday by the Swedish start-up Repamera AB. With this action, they wanted to encourage consumers to consume in a circular way. Meanwhile, instead of Cyber Monday, we have Green Friday. This day is dedicated to encouraging sustainable habits or donating part of the proceeds to charity.

By supporting honest, sustainable brands, you as a customer are also doing your bit. Did you know that you can save up to 94 per cent in carbon emissions when you choose a local brand that upcycles materials in partnership with local custom companies? We will be sharing circular and green facts like this on our COSH's Instagram account starting November 22.

Big companies are getting away with greenwashing and they are encouraging Black Friday and we at COSH find it intolerable. So let's break the vicious cycle and give sustainable brands and entrepreneurs a helping hand. These circular initiatives have their hearts in the right place and are truly committed. They put sustainability in their business model and it’s not a marketing stunt. It’s in their DNA and they deserve applause.

Inspired and looking for circular and green ways to celebrate Circular Monday and Green Friday? Find out where to go below.

Circular Inspiration

Studio AMA designs according to the material scraps available in the local Belgian textile industry and searches for suitable custom products in the Ghent area. She just opened a new store in the Burgstraat in Ghent. The place to be this week.

RE°invented is a Belgian slow fashion clothing brand founded by Anne Nagels. As the name implies, Anne wants to reinvent the fashion industry. With RE°invented, Anne strives for a transparent, sustainable and challenging fashion industry. Discover outfits made from upcycled men's shirts or blazers and ​​deadstock fabrics textiles.

Les Essentiels de Gaëlle is a new local upcycling clothing brand from the Flemish-Brabant region of Overrijse, near Brussels. Gaëlle transforms men's shirts that were only worn at the cuff or collar into unique kids clothes.

KSTMIZED from Mechelen is an upcycling clothing brand by fashion designer Jolien Lauwens. The collections consist of timeless and simple designs that are given a unique character by the combination of the textile surplus of designers and recycled clothing.

At Renée you will find hip, upcycled dresses made from second-hand men's shirts. All garments are handmade by Zoë De Cock and her mother Veerle Hamerlinck in their studio in Ghent.

Spruce Goose is a Belgian, circular brand that makes wooden accessories from existing materials from the thrift store.

Green Actions

At Bidules in Brussels, you can find vintage eyeglass frames. The optician offers a unique collection of glasses found in attics, old factories, and at retired opticians. Bidules wants to extend the life of eyeglasses and this is no different during the Black Friday weekend. Every customer who visits the store that weekend will see at least a 2 years old pair of eyeglasses and will receive a self-care kit.This way you can take extra good care of your glasses!

Another optician in Ixelles, Seed Lunettes, offers frames that are all made from sustainable materials. They are recyclable or biodegradable. Discover glasses made from recycled steel, sea or mussel shells, European wood pulp, plastic fished from the ocean, castor oil or coffee beans.

Jewelry designer Anna Rosa Moschouti organizes "Gold week" during the Black Friday week. During that week, she gives her customers information on how to maintain their jewelry in a natural way. You can also visit the Flagship store in Antwerp for free repairs and cleaning of your gold or 'gold plated' jewelry.

Zonnehoed in Zwalm, for example, chooses to plant a tree or a shrub in their Zonnehoed garden during Green Friday for every customer that makes a purchase during that weekend. So with your purchase you will contribute to a greener world.

Doekjes en broekjes in Leuven, donates something to Kirikou with every purchase. This organization collects baby and children's material in good condition for families in need in Leuven and wants to fight child poverty.

At Supergoods it is Denim Week. You can collect points for your loyalty card in exchange for old jeans. You can donate those points to charity or keep them for your next purchase.

It is therefore distressing to see that, time after time, giant companies send out press releases with sustainable messages or misleading communications.