BLACK Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a big shopping day where stores offer big discounts and opens early, some at midnight. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year in the U.S. Even car dealerships join the Black Friday frenzy. A friend from the U.S. told me that she bought a car at discounted price with additional freebies.

My first trip to the U.S. in 2014 fell on Thanksgiving Day but I was discouraged from joining the Black Friday sale. “Nung ditak mu salwan mu ay enaka pupunta”, they told me (if you will only buy a few items don’t go). Because in addition to the long queue, there are people who are injured or even crushed to death as they trample each other to buy stuff.

While bargains are ok, Black Friday is chided by some people for encouraging a culture of materialism. Some people buy things they don’t need just because it’s cheap. It boils down to greed. The high volume impulse buying is also hard on the environment. All the unnecessary goods used up the Earth’s precious and finite resources and add up to the planet’s mounting waste.

For example, electronic items are some of the most commonly purchased. All those new phones, tablets, cameras, and home gadgets will eventually turn into electronic waste, or “e-waste.” These gadgets cannot just be disposed with ordinary household waste because they contain heavy metals and other toxic materials. E-waste is one of the fastest growing wastes in the world today.

Clothes on the other hand, have big ecological impact. The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world, behind only fossil fuel energy production. The production and distribution of the crops, fibers, and garments used in fashion all contribute to differing forms of environmental pollution, including water, air, and soil pollution. The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of the carbon footprint of the world as well as it being the second greatest polluter of local freshwater in the world (Wikipedia).

Then there’s plastic. This non-biodegradable material can affect land, waterways and oceans. Marine animals are the most affected because of plastics entering our oceans. They get entangled in nets, and ingest plastic objects.

To counter Black Friday, a group of concerned people organize what they call a ‘Buy Nothing Day’ on Black Friday. It is a symbolic day which invites people to stop shopping for a day and reflect on what they really need. They encourage people not to be sucked up by the shopping frenzy and take a shopping break instead.

It’s time to re-examine our shopping habits. The over-consumption of convenience products like clothes, gadgets, toys and other unnecessary stuff is unsustainable. It is pushing our planet to its limits.