Ah, the unbridled avarice of the holidays. Black Friday is almost upon us and, love it or loathe it, the time of year that compels us to amass even more material goods is here.

black-friday-shoppingBlack Friday is an especially frantic, consumer-driven event that has become as good as a holiday. The Associated Press defines Black Friday as “the last Friday in November when U.S. retail sales launch the start of Christmas shopping.” And what a launch it is. Tens of millions of people head out to stores, sometimes mobbing and becoming violent in the hunt for a deal. Though online sales are starting to cut into in-store buying, brick and mortar sales for Black Friday, 2015 still amounted to $10.4 billion.

Is Black Friday worth it? For some, the chaos is all part of the fun. But the reality is, you can get a lot of the same deals throughout the holiday season or even online. In addition to the money and crowds, this time of year, especially on Black Friday, brings about a lot of trash. The EPA reports that household waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

If you want to avoid the mad rush and help out the environment, here are 5 alternatives to Black Friday.

Get outside

hiking

Visit a park, go on a hike, teach your kids to fish, or just take a walk around your neighborhood. Many states, like Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona, Missouri, and California are offering free park admission on Black Friday.

Even the outdoor retailer REI is joining in, closing all stores on Black Friday to encourage folks to #OptOutside.

Give back

hands-1

Giving Tuesday is a growing movement and carrying on the day of the week theme. Visit the website for ideas and inspiration and to find an organization that needs volunteers or donations.

Find a local organization that needs help and spend time helping others or the environment. Start a pool with friends and family to donate to a charity for the holidays.

Explore culture

art-museum

Chances are, most traffic will be heading to malls and shopping districts — so it will be a good day to find parking in other areas of town like museums and theaters. If you have the day off of work or school, why not see a play or take your kids to a children’s museum?

Start a winter garden

window-garden

Anyone can grow food in the winter, no matter where you live. If you live in an area that doesn’t freeze during the winter, you are in the perfect position for an outdoor garden. If not, consider a small greenhouse or even kitchen windowsill garden. Mother Earth News recommends cold hardy crops for a variety of climates.

Shop from home

shop-from-home

Stay in your pajamas, grab a cup of coffee or Thanksgiving leftovers, and plop in front of your computer for some shopping. Amazon has a Countdown to Black Friday Deals Week. And if you happen to still shop anywhere else online, there are likely deals to be had. Don’t forget about small-scale sellers on Etsy.com and Ebay.com. Many will have their own reduced prices that day.

And don’t forget about Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. Retailers will be offering deals online beginning at 12:00 A.M. November 28th.

Purge your closets

closet

Instead of buying more things to put in your home, why not spend the day creating more space and getting rid of things you don’t want or need? Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, recommends a method for sorting through your household. Take each object in hand and reflect on whether it brings you joy. If so, keep it. If not, get rid of it. And the things you don’t need may serve someone else. So take a carload to a thrift store or charity.

Whatever it is you decide to do on November 25, best of luck and have fun!

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