REI to close on Black Friday for its fifth year, takes 'Opt Outside' push one step further
REI

Since 2015, the outdoor gear giant REI has gone the opposite direction of most retailers on Black Friday. Instead of slashing prices and advertising sales on the biggest shopping day of the year, REI has closed its doors, shuttered its online sales, and encouraged would-be shoppers to go outside instead. Employees are still paid as if it were a work day.

For the past four years, the #OptOutside campaign has taken people from crowds and consumerism to the simple joys of nature. But this year, they're taking the idea one step further. Through more than 100 organized clean-up events, REI is asking people to "Opt to Act" for the environment.


RELATED: This short film brings together the beauty of the outdoors and power of paying it forward.

"Leading up to and on Black Friday, we're hosting events with different organization to clean parks, beaches and riverbanks nationwide," the company wrote on its website. "Let's leave the world better than we found it."

A short video shared on REI's Twitter page points out how our reliance on convenience and consumables that make life "easy," has resulted in the demise of the natural world. Images of garbage piles and rubbish washing ashore in the oceans serve as a reminder that our choices have environmental consequences. So it makes sense that a company dedicated to helping people explore the natural world would reject the mad dash to buy more stuff the day after giving thanks for what we have, and ask people to express gratitude for our planet through action instead.

The Opt to Act events Thanksgiving week are just the beginning. REI is offering a 52-week "action plan," with "weekly challenges to reduce your impact, get active and leave the world better than you found it." For example, in December, the challenges include using reusable bags, opting out of junk mail, and choosing sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper. You can even download a printable version of the 52-week action plan or sign up for weekly calendar notifications.

RELATED: Patagonia's CEO is donating company's entire $10M Trump tax cut to fight climate change.

And REI itself is taking on its own action challenges. The company already sources 100 percent green energy for all of their operations, has been advancing toward a zero-waste goal for years, and abides by a high bar of product sustainability standards. But REI President and CEO Eric Artz says "it's not enough."

In a message to co-op members, Artz wrote:

"As we ask you to steward the outdoor places you love this Black Friday, we're also announcing a series of our own commitments. We're rethinking the future of retail and finding ways for every REI member to take part in the circular economy with more used and rental gear choices. We're tackling waste in our own operations and in communities across the country. And we're redoubling our efforts to eliminate unnecessary packaging in our industry. You can read more about these commitments here, and we'll share even more in the coming months about the ongoing ways we'll be stepping up the fight for life outdoors.

As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls. As a co-op, we know that many people taking many small steps together can add up to big changes. Collective intention will drive collective impact.

Because when the next generation asks us what we did when the outdoors and the world needed us most, I want to be able to say, 'we did our best.'"

So great to see a company putting its money where it's mouth is. Ironically, forgoing the potential profits of Black Friday to create a movement for change and environmental action will probably push many people toward supporting REI with our dollars. Businesses can be profitable and responsible at the same time, and it would be great to see more of them follow REI's lead.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

With many schools going virtual, many daycare facilities being closed or limited, and millions of parents working from home during the pandemic, the balance working moms have always struggled to achieve has become even more challenging in 2020. Though there are more women in the workforce than ever, women still take on the lion's share of household and childcare duties. Moms also tend to bear the mental load of keeping track of all the little details that keep family life running smoothly, from noticing when kids are outgrowing their clothing to keeping track of doctor and dentist appointments to organizing kids' extracurricular activities.

It's a lot. And it's a lot more now that we're also dealing with the daily existential dread of a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, and increasingly intense natural disasters.

That's why scientist Gretchen Goldman's refreshingly honest photo showing where and how she conducted a CNN interview is resonating with so many.

Keep Reading Show less

Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less