Black Friday is target for Extinction Rebellion Cambridge ire
Black Friday is upon us, and with it the usual conflict of emotions - can you be bothered? Is it really a scam, or a way of shifting stock that otherwise isn’t selling? And this year, there are other considerations - are any of the stores actually going to open? Will it all be virtual?
If you haven’t yet made your mind up, then Extinction Rebellion Cambridge has some suggestions to factor in to your decision-making process, bearing in mind the climate action group has form when it comes to this particularly consumerist bonanza - last year they closed the Grand Arcade car park for several hours and introduced a new protest symbol, a pink boat.
Black Friday got going in the 1980s and is traditionally the day when retailers make big profits - so big their balance sheets turn from being in the red to being in the black. It takes place the day after Thanksgiving.
If you do brave the action - bricks-and-mortar stores opening include PC World, John Lewis, Argos, Asda, Tesco and Currys - expect to see posters around central Cambridge with messages including “No shopping on a dead planet” and “Work, buy, consume, die”. They will have been posted by Extinction Rebellion Cambridge’s protesters ito highlight “the catastrophic climate and ecological impacts of corporate greed and consumer culture” - adding that current global consumption already demands 1.7 Earths’ worth of resources per year and continues to rise.
Extinction Rebellion Boycott Fashion said: “The devastating effects of climate and ecological breakdown are happening right now and although it will affect us all, it does not affect us equally. While the Global South experiences catastrophe, the Global North manifests its denial by celebrating mass consumerism. Each year, on Black Friday, brands and retailers promote cheaper-than-ever bargains and discounts, encouraging the mindless consumption that contributes to this crisis.
“We ask everyone – brands, retailers and citizens – not to discount the earth, but instead to invest in a future for all. We ask everyone to refrain from Black Friday and instead use their platforms to raise awareness of the climate emergency and those who suffer – and will suffer – its cruellest effects. Love and appreciate what you have, don’t buy anything you don’t need and kindly consider donating money to those groups who work for climate justice, for the preservation of nature and for the rights of the world’s workers.”
An Extinction Rebellion (XR) Youth Cambridge activist added: “A year ago, we spent Black Friday blocking the entrance to the Grand Arcade car park with our pink boat, Ken Saro Wiwa, named to honour the murdered Ogoni environmental activist. Because of the pandemic, another mass action isn’t possible today, but it’s vital we continue our struggle against consumerism.”
The group has also raised concerns about the way the consumerist model has developed, and the fact - as a Parliamentary Committee report published today has indicated, that the UK is lagging behind other nations in embedding a circular economy of use, reuse and recycle for small electronics, which has vital role in protecting the environment.
The Environmental Audit Committee’s ‘Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy’ report concluded: “The concept of use, reuse and recycle is well understood among bricks and mortar retailers which collect old electronics. But for all their protestations of claimed sustainability, major online retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon have so far avoided playing their part in the circular economy by not collecting or recycling electronics in the way other organisations have to.
“Repairing and recycling must become commonplace for electronics. In our report today, we have set out how the Government can achieve a circular economy for electronics – from VAT changes making repair more attractive, to the onus being placed on online marketplaces when delivering new product to collect old items they are replacing.”
XR Youth Cambridge’s spokesperson adds: “Recycling isn’t enough. Buying second-hand isn’t enough. Switching to ‘ethical brands’ isn’t enough. We all need to drastically reduce our material consumption if we want to prevent further climate collapse.
“In addition to that injustice, Covid means that every unnecessary item we buy is now putting frontline workers throughout the supply chain, including here in Cambridge, in needless danger. It’s time for us to all rethink what holiday gift-giving looks like, to question the constant stream of product advertisements, and to boycott Black Friday.”
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