There are better things you can do on Black Friday than shop. Here are 7 ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving! Build up your community, help the planet, and move into the rest of the holiday season with a level head.

Maybe it's because I hate crowds, or because I'm perpetually two years late to the newest technology, or because shopping makes me tired ... but I've never understood Black Friday.

Personally, I prefer to spend the day following Thanksgiving eating pie at every meal while wearing pants with elastic waistbands.


This just does not look like an enjoyable experience. Photo from Powhusku/Flickr.

Let's be real: Even if you do like shopping, Black Friday brings some major issues to the table.

First of all, most of the retail workers who deal with crowds of customers on Black Friday make close to the minimum wage — about $10.29 an hour, on average. Many big box stores don't offer health coverage to all their employees. And the sale-crazed crowds on Black Friday can even be dangerous for workers and shoppers both.

That's why REI made the decision to close their stores on Nov. 27. They're giving their employees a paid holiday so they can "opt outside" and spend the day in the great outdoors instead of "fighting it out in the aisles."

Who doesn't want to spend the holidays in the Walmart seafood aisle? Photo from bobjgalindo/Wikimedia Commons.

The shopping surge also means that many retail workers have to leave their loved ones and work on the day after (and sometimes the night of) Thanksgiving.

So if you only get one day-after-Thanksgiving every year, it's silly to waste it at a crowded store with hundreds of other people who are willing to throw elbows to get a new Blu-ray player.

Instead, here are seven ways to spend Black Friday that are (at least in my mind) a whole lot better than shopping.

1. Take a trip to a state park.

I'm pretty sure that parks offer much better views than the inside of a Walmart. So load up your Thanksgiving leftovers into a picnic basket, find the closest park, and get some fresh air. If you live in Minnesota, you can even take advantage of free admission to all of the state's parks this Nov. 27.

This is Frontenac State Park, Minnesota. Beautiful, eh? Photo by Yinan Chen/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Clean out your closet.

Remember that one time you spring cleaned? Yeah, me neither. But it's never too late to pull everything out of your closet and get rid of the things you really don't need. When you're done, find a new home for your old clothes and for those books you never got around to reading — try Freecycle or Craigslist.

3. Eat those leftovers.

OK, you were probably planning on doing this anyway, but let's pretend it's my idea. About one-third of the food produced in the world is wasted and thrown away. Don't let that happen to your Thanksgiving meal. If you get sick of turkey sandwiches, give your leftovers a makeover with one of these recipes.

Photo by Ruocaled/Flickr.

4. Take a long walk.

I just started taking long walks and I cannot recommend it enough. You're going to need some endorphins to propel you out of your Thanksgiving food coma, and since daylight is getting a little more scarce each day, you better spend some time outside while you can. Bundle up and kill two birds with one … pleasant stroll around the neighborhood.

5. Binge-watch "Master of None."

Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, you should maybe re-evaluate your life decisions. "Master of None" isn't just hilarious and brilliant — it's also an honest depiction of people of color that doesn't tokenize the characters. That's rare in TV, but Aziz Ansari pulls it off flawlessly.

GIF from "Master of None."

6. Compost your food scraps.

The potato peels, lemon rinds, and coffee grounds from Thanksgiving dinner could actually be used to create nutrient-filled soil! If you live near a community garden, you can keep your food scraps in a Tupperware container and take them to the compost pile the next day. Or, better yet, spend Black Friday building your own compost bin.

7. Talk to your family.

Here's one cool thing that I recently discovered about adulthood: Your parents (and grandparents, for that matter) have a lot of good stories they never told you, either because you never asked or because they didn't want you to know they were also young and kind of stupid once. If you're together this year, dig up some of those stories. Bonus points: Research has shown has shown that sharing those stories can actually bring you closer together and build empathy.

There are a lot of really awesome things you can do on Black Friday that don't involve a credit card.

We'd love to hear your ideas, too.

And really, however you spend your Thanksgiving — or the day after, or the day before — just don't forget to celebrate the true spirit of the holiday, focusing on feeling grateful for your family, your friends, and your planet.

Family

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of the late Roy Disney, the co-founder of the Walt Disney Co. Abigail herself does not have a job within the company, but she has made some public complaints about the way things are being run and how it is effecting the employees of the company.

Disney recently spoke on the Yahoo News show "Through Her Eyes," and shared a story of how a Magic Kingdom employee reached out to her about the poor working conditions at the theme park. So, Disney went to see for herself, and she did not like what she found.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wellington District Police

Some animals have no respect for authority. Rogue penguins are disobeying the police in New Zealand, and they can't stop, won't stop.

Two little blue penguins were spotted at Sushi Bi near the Wellington railway station, allegedly trying to nest. The penguins had to cross through busy lanes of traffic running between the harbor and the sushi bar.

The dangerous duo was detained by the police, then released back into Wellington Harbour.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Magnific Eye / Unsplash

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities