Christian Arno

Green Friday: celebrating businesses at the forefront of conscious consumption

12 min Read
Close up of a label on a pink and green knitted garment reading Green Friday

As the world moves determinedly towards a more sustainable future, the impulse buying and single-use purchasing frenzy that Black Friday provokes will be left in the dust, replaced instead by sustainable spending habits that are applied year-round (not just on Green Friday).

Green Friday is a growing phenomenon whereby the discount-driven spending of Black Friday is replaced by conscious consumption, sustainable habits and sharing/giving instead of buying/taking.

According to Finder, there’s less of us in the UK planning to take part in Black Friday this year; only 39% of adults compared to 42% in 2019. People’s commitment to living a greener lifestyle has been driven by many things; personal research, first-hand experience of the climate crisis, mainstream media, Sir David Attenborough, that photo of the seahorse holding an earbud… I could go on forever.

In amongst this list sits businesses that are doing their bit to encourage people to buy less stuff. While this might sound oxymoronic, conscious consumerism is on the rise and there are a handful of businesses really getting behind it.

This Green Friday, I thought I’d shout about the businesses I’ve heard of that are trailblazing this new way of operating. This is both because I am a firm believer in celebrating the good that’s going on in the world, and because the more encouragement businesses get for this kind of thinking, the more others will want to jump on the bandwagon.

Pawprint is empowering Brewdog’s employees to calculate and reduce their carbon footprints, and has more 5-figure businesses in the pipeline. Learn more about how we can help your business.

Triodos Bank finances positive social, environmental and cultural change

Since its conception, Triodos has focused on transparent, responsible banking that uses finance to create positive change in the world. This year, they’ve gone one step further by releasing a manifesto called ‘Reset the economy’, which sets out an ‘agenda for a resilient and inclusive recovery from the global corona crisis’.

The fiscal policies outlined in the document have been designed to address both the climate crisis and the vulnerability of our ‘no-buffer economy’; instead of economic growth, their plan sets out a strategy to prioritise people, planet and prosperity. For example, one of its main recommendations is to stop measuring progress in terms of GDP and instead use a benchmark that is guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This dedication to conscious consumerism, whereby they encourage people to make ethical money choices, banks to follow morals over market forces, and governments to put people and the planet over profit, firmly lands them on my list of businesses dedicated to building a better world.

All Birds emptied its London flagship last Black Friday

The problem with Black Friday sales is that they make people panic buy items they don’t need because they’re scared they’ll miss out on a good deal. This kind of consumerism—packing your life full of ‘stuff’ just because—is terrible for your wallet, but also for the planet.

Last year, sustainable shoe brand All Birds took a stand against it, paving a path for brands that are no longer comfortable with the role they play in feeding this bottomless pit. To raise awareness, the San Francisco-based company emptied its only UK store and instead hosted a series of creative, ‘conscious consuming’ workshops. People couldn’t buy their shoes, but could learn about some of the natural materials All Birds uses in its manufacturing process.

Aside from public stunts like this, All Birds’ self-imposed carbon tax enables it to offset emissions so that it is carbon neutral. However, the company’s ultimate goal is to emit no carbon in the first place. To quote them, they want to ‘be like a tree’ and leave the environment ‘cleaner than [they] found it’. Gold star from me.

IKEA buys back furniture

As part of the Swedish retailer’s effort to become circular, IKEA is launching a ‘Buy Back’ initiative in the UK and Ireland on November 27th - Black Friday.  

The circular economy is an economic system that eliminates waste through the continual use of resources; a much-needed reimagining of the linear ‘take-make-waste’ system we currently use.

Buy Back encourages people to return unwanted furniture, in exchange for a voucher that can be spent in-store, so that it can be resold or recycled. Obviously, ‘in exchange for a voucher’ isn’t the perfect solution since it’s still encouraging people to buy more stuff, but it’s a step towards circularity; a step in the right direction.

Giving an item a new lease of life ensures that the embodied carbon from manufacturing is stretched further; plus, with more affordable second-hand options on the market, more people can choose to consume sustainably and less new ‘stuff’ needs to be made (at least in theory, anyway.)

This initiative is part of a wider £2.9bn plan from IKEA to become fully circular and climate positive by 2030; a trend which is really picking up momentum. Patagonia’s pledged to be CO2 neutral by 2025, Adidas is designing shoes in a closed-loop system so that they are infinitely recyclable, and Brewdog’s already gone carbon negative, saying ‘If we don’t have a planet to brew beer on, then our whole business is pretty pointless.’ Exactly, Brewdog!


If reading this roundup of ‘brands do some good’ has inspired you to look to your own business and start making changes, great. Collective effort from individuals, businesses and governments is what it’s going to take.

Pawprint was actually built for this very reason; to empower people to fight climate change and build a movement of people inspired by the power of collective action. Our business product is designed to channel the passion your employees have for fighting climate change towards your climate targets; it injects a green culture into the heart of your business.

Like what you're reading?

Join 4,000+ others in receiving our monthly newsletter – from boosting your climate knowledge (and showing off to colleagues), to keeping abreast of news and trends, if there’s one eco email in your inbox, this should be it.

Find out more

More stories