The #WhiteMonday movement is here to provide us all with an alternative to arguably the most wasteful days of the year in the consumer calendar – Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day. Faced with the escalation of the climate crisis, one Swedish non-profit campaign hopes to fight overconsumption and our global shopping addiction by encouraging consumers to look to the circular economy for their next shopping fix.
We are in the middle of an ecological crisis, from record-breaking temperature highs to overflowing landfills. And there seems to be no end in sight, thanks to the vicious cycle driven by our constant desire for material goods and the opportunistic corporations and their marketing geniuses who look to profit from it as much as possible. Although greater awareness about the degradation we’ve done to our planet has prompted some shift in consumer preferences towards more environmentally mindful and ethical choices, the majority of us are still contributing to the prevailing status quo- namely, constant, obsessive overconsumption.
The stats are astonishing: Americans are expected to drop a whopping US$87 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, according to Inside Retail’s predictions. Chinese consumers have spent even more than that (almost double in 2018) during the 24-hour window of their version of Black Friday, dubbed Singles Day by the extravaganza’s inventor e-commerce giant Alibaba. While the profits and commercial success of these annual discounted shopping events make marketers and brands salivate, it is this very mentality of mindless overconsumption that sits at the crux of the biggest threat to our planet today.
In an attempt to counteract the linear, unsustainable trend that is putting a serious strain on our limited natural resources and exacerbating climate change, Swedish circular economy entrepreneur Henning Gillberg launched the White Monday movement in his home country. The movement, which thanks to an Instagram army of #WhiteMonday adherents has since gained traction, hopes to empower consumers to action: to choose reused, repaired, recycled or upcycled items rather than purchasing new.
White Monday encourages taking action in three simple steps: 1) Share a picture with the hashtag #WhiteMonday and 2) refuse to participate in Black Friday (or any reincarnations of these “celebrations”) by buying absolutely nothing and 3) while not a must, try to help raise awareness for the circular economy by trying out secondhand, repair and rental alternatives on the market, which have a much lower footprint on our planet.
“Circular consumption does have a positive economic impact. To stay relevant and marketable, companies are having to adapt and produce products that meet consumer sustainability and environmental demands,” said Gillberg.
Since its launch, the movement has garnered the attention of over 200 organisations, influencers and companies worldwide, and hopes to be able to spread the message to the masses. While the official #WhiteMonday day was observed November 25th, we can continue to participate on future days by following the steps. We have the power as individuals to join in and boycott shopping spree days, share the campaign through social media, and support companies that do embrace the circular economy model.
Lead image courtesy of White Monday / @Houvanmode.