Instead of Black Friday shopping #OptOutside

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s a wonderful time to spend with loved ones, eating delicious food, hanging out together and being thankful.

Unfortunately, the day after Thanksgiving is anything but pleasant and family-friendly. I’m not sure how we have gotten to a point where the chaos of “Black Friday” follows immediately on the heels of pleasantness and thoughtfulness.

I’ve never been one for Black Friday shopping. I have had to work on Black Friday before, so I have experienced it as a sales person, but not a shopper. I’ve never stood in a massive line at 4 a.m. or thundered through the front doors of K-Mart with a crazed herd of shoppers.

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It seems like an awful lot of stress for very little reward. Over the past few years, Black Friday sales have slowly crept onto Thanksgiving Day as well. Shopping on Black Friday is not appealing to me; shopping on Thanksgiving is not just unappealing, it’s appalling.

So what do people do on the day after Thanksgiving if they aren’t shopping? Some people might be relaxing with loved ones, enjoying time off or going back to work. The outdoor clothing and gear company REI suggests that on Black Friday, instead of waiting in long lines and shopping that you “#OptOutside.” Last year was the first time that REI asked people to #OptOutside and they closed their stores on Black Friday and paid their employees to spend time outside.

Last year, according to their blog, they had 1.4 million people and 170 organizations #OptOutside.

On REI’s website, you can tell people on social media that you will be opting outside for Black Friday, you can also type in your location and it will find places for you to go and spend some time outside.

Some people see this as a marketing idea that’s not really so against the spirit of Black Friday. Maybe it is, but I think it’s much more in the spirit of Thanksgiving. It’s encouraging people to get outside and enjoy nature, so I support it. Even if it is a marketing ploy, REI is counting on the goodwill generated among consumers from the positive message, not tricking people into buying from them.

No matter the reasoning behind it, when a large retailer is encouraging people to get outside and enjoy nature, that speaks volumes. It’s inspiring to me to see that other organizations and companies are following suit and supporting this initiative. I think that all of us could use more time outside, and this gives us great motivation to carve out time (pun intended) to do so. It’s also exciting to think that you are part of a movement for less shopping and consumerism, and more enjoying the wonders of the natural world.

There are so many options for opting outside, including birding, hiking, biking and a myriad of other options. The most important thing is to get outside, so you don’t have to do anything complicated — maybe just take a nice walk or visit a nearby park.

Other companies and organizations supporting the #OptOutisde movement include Subaru, the National Parks Conservation Association, and Save The Redwoods League.

On Black Friday, I will #OptOutside, and I hope you will too.

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

A wild turkey’s head can change color quickly depending on the emotion the bird is experiencing. It can change between red, white, pink and blue.