There’s 100% discount if you just don’t buy it said ReRun clothing’s Dan Lawson and Charlotte Jalley. 

That annual glut of spam emails and pop up ads about unbelievable sales, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s just a load of old bollocks to make you buy the stuff that’s stuck in the back warehouse and half of it is probably on sale at the same price for the rest of the year too.

The Black Friday idea actually comes from the first day of the year that retailers go from “in the red” to “in the black” financially, mainly because in the US it signifies the first day of holiday shopping.

So what doe the sales mean? Companies see these big sales as an okay to over produce clothing and kit, then we’ll just buy them at a reduced price so they aren’t punished for producing too much. We’re basically saying it’s okay to overproduce, which it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re waiting for the sales to get something you really need, then no shame in that at all, this isn’t targeted at you. But, if like me, you start looking at shoes, shorts, tee-shirts and socks that you don’t actually need, just because they have a 50% discount, then could we think twice?

“Use these Black Friday sales as a practice in changing habits around over consumption.” says ReRun’s Charlotte Jalley.  “If you really need it, this might be a good opportunity to buy. If you don’t need it, resist the urge to spend on something new and shiny just because it’s cheap.

“Black Friday is one of many sales throughout the year, let your actual needs dictate when you purchase rather than when brands want you to.”

What can we do?

To start with start asking these brands what they are doing to reduce their waste, improve their employees welfare and generally produce better clothing that lasts for longer. The Fashion Revolution website has some good social media templates and advice on what we can do, but here’s a tweet ready made for you from them:

“Hey [@fashionbrand], this Black Friday, I want to know how you’re taking responsibility for the waste in your operations, ensuring the wellbeing of everyone who makes your clothes and tackling fashion overproduction? Tell me #WhatsInMyClothes? #WhoMadeMyClothes?”

I’m sure some are thinking “but Robbie, you’re an Odlo sponsored athlete, why don’t you get off your high horse and do one.”

Rather than all sponsored athletes just leave their brands and have a moral high ground to tweet from, why not use your position to ask questions of those in the brands themselves? Talking to Odlo, sustainability is clearly something on their mind and I’ve sent a few annoying emails asking as such.

#Beawareofwhatyouwear is their most recent initaitive and their aim is to “improve the way we create and consume our clothes.” Are they doing enough? Check out some of the information on the Odlo website, but also research elsewhere. We need to be cynical when looking at a brand’s own communications.

What are brands doing?

Brands like Patagonia have been leading the way for years, but you can have a look at the environmental impact and sustainability targets of different brands on The Ethical Consumer website, but also just a great website to find “all the information and inspiration you need to revolutionise the way you spend, save and live.”

Look to see if the fancy media campaigns actually have some substance or if they’re “greenwashing” or “gaslighting”, like when major oil companies run campaigns about individuals lowering their carbon emissions whilst still trying to totally fuck the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with new drilling and pipelines.

Back to the sports industry, we need to look at the quality of the clothing we buy, how it’s made and what from. If we’re buying trainers that fall apart after 200 miles or plastic t-shirts made in a sweatshop, then can we use better quality kit that lasts longer. It might cost a bit more but think of it in terms of price per year of usage and suddenly it’s better value.

Dan Lawson takes his disdain for excessive tee-shirt wearing very seriously, whereas I’m simply wearing a ReRun mash-up. The weight saved could have helped Lawson up the hill, but it’s likely just superior fitness. Photo: James Ian Vincent

But I really want to buy something that I don’t need

A bit of retail therapy needed in this shit show of a year? Well don’t worry, Trees not Tees have extended their race t-shirt replacement service to all types of shopping. If you want to buy a t-shirt in the sales, but deep down you know you don’t need it, then why not buy a tree?

A present for the runner who has everything? It doesn’t need to be an extra pair of trainers that will sit in the cupboard. How about a great book about running, a virtual race entry, a real race entry, some coaching, some trainers for someone who needs them or another tree?

If you really need the kit then look at good quality, long lasting clothing and do some brand research. Maybe even think about some pre-loved kit at ReRun? from Dave MacFarlane on Vimeo.

Nobody is perfect

Nobody is perfect and you don’t have to be. We just need to think a little more, try a little better and spread the word a little. I’m not writing this as someone who’s immune to the wonderful world of Black Friday Sales and discount filled emails. I won’t buy anything I don’t need on the weekend and when Odlo ask if I need any new kit, I try to reflect and answer honestly. Do I really need any need kit?

Add to that I try to re-home my older kit responsibly too. Repair anything that needs doing before finding someone who actually needs and might use a new jacket or pair of barely used shoes that didn’t fit right.

The more time I spend with Dan Lawson and Charlotte Jalley, the more it makes me think about my use and consumption of sports kit. I’ll always ask the question “Do I really need this” before buying anything these days, and a lot of the time it does stop me actually buying something I don’t need.

Yes we do have advertising on FastRunning too, but it’s literally just to keep the virtual doors open and if we work specifically with a brand we like to be aware of their own environmental impact too.