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29.11.2019 Europe

French 'Block Friday' protests challenge Black Friday consumerist bonanza

NOV 29, 2019 EUROPE

Environmental activists in France have blocked an Amazon warehouse near Paris in one of several anti-Black Friday protests planned today. Opposition to the post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza is growing and a group of French lawmakers are pushing to ban it altogether.

Several dozen activists from Attac and Greenpeace gathered at Amazon headquarters in Clichy near Paris Friday morning to protest the environmental damage they say is caused by rampant consumerism during "Black Friday" sales.

“Amazon produces as many greenhouse gases as a State,” said Jean-François Julliard, head of Greenpeace France.

Meanwhile, across France regional groups plan to put up festive roadblocks and leaflet stores and shoppers.

Green groups You for Climate and Extinction Rebellion are organising actions in some 30 cities “festively occupying and blocking temples of consumerism".

On Thursday, activists from COP21 Non-Violent Action and climate group Friends of the Earth blocked the driveway of an Amazon depot in Bretigny-sur-Orge, spreading it with hay and old refrigerators and microwaves.

They held banners in front of the gates reading “Amazon: For the climate, for jobs, stop expanding, stop over-production!”

The activists were later dislodged by police.
Move to ban Black Friday publicity
Black Friday – when shops and online stores offer big discounts in the lead up to Christmas – was introduced to France from the US in 2013.

Despite having no links to the US Thanksgiving holiday, it has become very popular and often extends to several days.

But opposition to the event is growing at a political level too.

On Monday this week, MPs voted to approve an amendment to France's "anti-waste" law which would prohibit advertising campaigns around Black Friday. The document cited “resource waste”, “overconsumption” and the fact the day has a “disastrous environmental record”.

The amendment, which was put forward by France's former environment minister, Delphine Batho, could force Black Friday deals to be considered as sales, which are tightly regulated and limited to only two six-week periods in winter and in summer. That could pave the way for an outright ban.

The amendment will be debated next month, too late to impact on Black Friday 2019 but possibly on future editions.

France's e-commerce union has condemned it.
Make Friday Green Again
On Europe 1 radio Thursday, France's ecological transition minister, Elisabeth Borne, criticised Black Friday for creating “traffic jams, pollution, and gas emissions.”

She added that she would support Black Friday if it helped small French businesses, but said it mostly benefits large online retailers.

French shoe company Faguo announced early November that it had enlisted at least 600 French stores and brands to boycott Black Friday, through a collective called "Make Friday Green Again".

Instead of joining in the shopping frenzy, it encourages people to go through their wardrobes to sell or recycle things they no longer want, see what they really need and only buy what in moderation and for a fair price.