In recent days, the media has been flooded with Black Friday campaigns. Ironically, the marketing campaigns for the annual shopping spree started just as the UN International Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow ended. The climate conference reiterated the strong message from Paris in 2018: to protect the planet from the dangerous effects of climate change, we must limit global warming to less than +1.5 degrees. The will is there, but the means and implementation are still at an early stage. What is certain, however, is that the earth's resources must be used more efficiently and sparingly, and that climate neutrality must be achieved. For the EU, this target is 2050.
There is a huge gap between our current lifestyle and the climate targets. According to a study by Sitra, our carbon footprint in Finland should be reduced by up to 93% by 2050. In the public debate, the discussion on solutions to climate change has largely focused on energy production and technological possibilities, although changes in consumption behaviour also play a major role. Fortunately, we can all influence the environmental impact we cause through our daily decisions. Housing, food, transport and consumption habits make up the bulk of our personal carbon footprint. All consumption should simply be more sensible and sustainable.
Corporate responsibility in the fight against climate change is now being highlighted everywhere, but the problem with Black Friday for many retail companies, is the importance these few days has on annual sales. It is therefore economically difficult for many to ignore it. The commercialisation of the holidays is bad for our planet and requires responsibility from both consumers and businesses. Corporate responsibility is to challenge campaigns like Black Friday that encourage unnecessary consumption and consumers can, with their purchasing power, let companies know that it’s time to change for good.
Black Friday has been prominently joined by Green Friday, and in contrast to Cyber Monday there is White Monday, which instead of promoting discount-driven consumption seeks to remind people of our planet's limited resources. Some companies campaign against Black Friday, others use the occasion to campaign against climate change or for other non-commercial causes. Some brands even raise their prices on the day and donate the proceeds to charity. The idea behind Green Friday has been to encourage sensible spending. Retailers that participate in Green Friday or White Monday encourage recycling, favour visits to physical stores and more local sustainable shopping. In all activities where money is spent, consideration should be given to the rationality behind it and if the money is spent sustainably. Whether it is spending money on goods and services or saving and investing.
By investing responsibly, each of us can contribute to which companies have the best prerequisite for operating in the future. Interests towards responsible investments has rightly grown enormously and the impact investors have on transforming companies to be even more responsible in their operations should not be underestimated. Companies that operate responsibly and according to sustainable standards and norms have been in the long term, and most likely will continue to be, more profitable and this is reflected in shareholder returns.
No one can solve everything, but everyone can do something. So, when you buy or invest, do it responsibly!