Climate strikers protest mass consumerism on Black Friday

CBC Kids News • Published 2019-11-29 15:08

‘People don’t see all the waste in the world,’ striker said

Once again, thousands of young people across Canada skipped school to take part in climate strikes today, but they did so in front of a slightly different backdrop.

Today’s strike fell on the same day that thousands of shoppers were cashing in on big savings through Black Friday events.

“So many people go shopping,” said Kaya Mckergow, 13, from Halifax. “It takes a lot of fuel to import the clothing and everybody in their car. It’s just really [harming] the environment.”

A climate striker walks in a parking lot, holding a sign that says

Kaya Mckergow, a Grade 8 student, skipped school to take part in the climate strike. (Sabrina Fabian/CBC)

Kaya was one of about a hundred protesters in Halifax who marched to the city’s biggest shopping mall, the Halifax Shopping Centre, and went inside.

The crowds of shoppers were much bigger than the climate strikers, but many people stopped and watched as they chanted and held up signs.

Adding to their usual message to world leaders to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they also targeted stores that encourage people to buy more.

“Some people don’t realize that climate change is a real problem … and they’re contributing,” said Kaya.

Climate protesters hang signs in a mall

Black Friday has traditionally been a massive American shopping event, falling the day after Thanksgiving, but the trend has spread to Canada. According to the Retail Council of Canada, it’s now more popular than Boxing Day. (Sabrina Fabian/CBC)

No one at the Halifax Shopping Centre was available to comment, but a spokesperson sent a statement to CBC Kids News, saying the “Halifax Shopping Centre is committed to creating a better world for future generations.”

It went on to explain that the mall has a number of initiatives that help stores “trying to make better choices for the environment.”

Lauren Davis-Whatley, 12, said it’s up to corporations to do more.

“Corporations aren’t paying attention to things that are ruining the Earth,” she said.

A climate striker hods a sign that says

Lauren Davis-Whatley, left, joined about a hundred climate strikers in Halifax who protested Black Friday by marching to a shopping mall. (Sabrina Fabian/CBC)

She suggested people do things like go vegan, try to buy second hand and use less plastic.

“Consumerism is a big problem that people don’t realize,” said Kendra Ridgley, 18.

“I think Black Friday influences people to buy things they don’t necessarily need. And people don’t see all the waste in the world.”

A climate striker holds a sign that reads

Kendra Ridgely said she participated in the climate strike because ‘we need to take action before it’s too late.' (Sabrina Fabian/CBC)

In Toronto, organizer Alienor Rogeout, 20, led a group of strikers through the downtown core, past the Eaton Centre, a massive mall that’s home to hundreds of stores.

The mall has extended its hours to allow shoppers more time to buy goods.

Rougeot said the strikers were calling out businesses to offer more sustainable options and asked people not to buy into the marketing.

“We’re not blaming the people going in, but if you can afford it, don’t buy today,” Rougeout told CBC Kids News ahead of the strike.

A huge crowd of people in front of a monument in Berlin.

Climate strikes were held around the world on Nov. 29, including in Berlin, Germany. (Michael Sohn/The Associated Press)

According to a survey by the Retail Council of Canada, 43 per cent of respondents planned to make purchases on Black Friday.

CBC Kids News also reached out to several Canadian retailers for comment, such as Winners, Roots and Mark’s Work Wearhouse.

Not one responded to the request with a comment or interview.

With files from The Canadian Press

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