The Green Backlash Against Black Friday

Ditch the six-hour Walmart line and get back to nature, y’all.

On Black Friday, Kentucky native Clinton Lewis wont be rushing to the mall for deals. The photographer wont be fatigued from a six-hour line outside Walmart, or emphasized from pushing through mob. Hell be outside at Low Hollow in Bowling Green, Kentucky, running the trails.

Lewis is one of at least 1 million people who have decided to #OptOutside on Black Friday, i.e ., to forgo the mall and venture into nature insteada phenomenon that may merely be the answer to your holiday stress. Call it Green Friday.

The movement, which has run viral, began with a letter that outdoor apparel company REI delivered to its more than 5 million members on Oct. 27. In it, the company made a big announcement. Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to expend it outside, wrote CEO Jerry Stritzke. Were closing our doorways, paying our employees to get out there.

For the first time in its 76 -year history, REI will close the day after Thanksgiving. Instead of reaping the rewards of the biggest shopping day of the year, which brought out 133 million people in 2014, the co-op is shutting its doorways. Its 12,139 employees are being paid, more or less, to go on a hike.

The campaign, officially called #OptOutside, is sleek. Superimposed on scenes of majestic mountain and flowing waterfalls are terms of encouragement and links with more information about the #OptOutside campaign. In one poster, the company writes: While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, well be expending our day a little differently. Join us.

Americans, it seems, have been waiting for an opportunity like this one. By midweek, at least 14 states announced they would be issuing free day passes to national parksincluding California, which has the most parks per country. One hundred and fifty nonprofits have also jumped on board the Green Friday bandwagon, as well as private companies like Cliff Bar.

Save the Redwoodsthe backbone of Californias state parkswas the first major organization to jump on board, offering free park passes at all 49 parks. Jennifer Benito, the groups director of outreach, voiced overjoyed when we connected on the phone. Nearly 5,000 people have taken advantage of the offer in so far, entailing 31 out of 49 parks have reached their limit.

Were overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response, Benito tells The Daily Beast. Its so exciting to see that people are gravitating to this. Save the Redwoods built the decision hoping to build on REIs momentum and get people enjoying Californias woods. Instead, they sparked a trend all their owninspiring states from Colorado to North Carolina to present similar offers. Its touched me personally, adds Benito. Its a great message for the holidays.

Even more surprising than the level of reply, it seems, are the varied routes that people are choosing to get involved, offering everything from free ski passes to granola bars. Alex Thompson, REIs VP of communications and public affairs, says his favorite thus far is a Colorado brewery that is giving a free growler to REI employees. Its merely fun, were just happy to see that people are enjoying themselves, Thompson tells The Daily Beast. Its exciting us so much that were able to give a voice to people dedicating their lives to getting outdoors.

Thompson tells dozens of people have taken to Medium to discuss dedicating their lives to opting outside. Nikki Mashapure, store director of the new Woodland Hills, California, REI and 14 -year veteran of the company, tells shell be expending the day off like she expends most of them: hiking. Its an extension of the spirit of Thanksgiving, writes Mashapure. Devoting families a reason to expend quality time together, devoting them a reason to interact.

While the official campaign to trench the mall and venture into the great outdoors on Black Friday is new, the inspiration behind it is not. Ben Steele, REIs chief creative policeman, said the decision was inspired by a quotation, more than a hundred years old, delivered by a trailblazer in the parks world, John Muir: Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.

Muir delivered the quote in 1901, but Steele tells its as poignant today as it was then. It feels so germane and so relevant, he tells The Daily Beast. That feeling is being exemplified todayI think that is part of why the energy is house. The magnitude of the response is something Steele calls humbling and exciting, creating a platform for people to talk about the quality of life that happens when they connect to the outdoors.

Its not only nature-junkies like Steele who have realized the positive benefits of being among the trees. Science, too, has discovered a correlation between the outdoors and health, one that indicates expending even small amounts of time in nature attains us happy. In a 2010 systematic review titled Green Perspectives for Public Health, researchers received a walk in nature to have short-term restorative impacts for a variety of physiological symptomsincluding stress.

While some proof was contradictory, the researchers concluded that the data demonstrate a tendency towards a health-promoting and disease-preventing potential of contact with natural outdoor surroundings is comparable to urban. More in-depth analyzes, they wrote, are needed to strengthen this claim.

Enter Gregory Bratman, a Stanford graduate student, who has been zeroing in on the short-term effects of taking a walk outside in nature. In a study published in June 2015, he asked 60 people to take a 50 -minute walk through nature. Participants were asked to complete a psychological evaluation before and after the stroll. Those who walked in nature, he found, exhibited a decrease in anxiety and rumination, as well as improved affect and cognition.

In another analyze released this past July, he took it a step further, analyzing certain differences in effect of a 90 -minute walk through nature and one through an urban environment. Since urbanization has been shown to increase mental illnesses such as depression, he hypothesized that the walk through nature would have a greater consequence on well-being. He was right.

The nature stroll resulted in self-reported decreases in rumination and neural activity, whereas one in an urban environment had no such effects. This analyze discloses a pathway by which nature experience may improve mental well-being, Bratman writes. And been shown that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.

After a traumatic year of police barbarism, terrorist threats, and political turmoil, America seems “re ready for” a change of pace. Thanksgiving is a hour about family and connectionabout the places and people we love best, tells Steele. Lets be given a chance to celebrate.

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