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Skip Black Friday with six creative ideas for a greener day

By Cecilia Cho

It is tempting to take advantage of the big frenzied Black Friday sales the day after Thanksgiving, but there is an environmental cost to over-consumption, extra packaging, additional waste and more vehicle miles driven.

According to the Huffington Post, Americans produce 25 percent more waste than normal during the holiday season, and Black Friday is a big contributor.

Even some major retailers are opting out to let their employees spend time with their families during the Thanksgiving weekend. For the first time this year, Recreation Equipment Inc. (REI), a national outdoor gear supply company, will close its 143 stores on Black Friday in order to promote the outdoors over shopping. The company is encouraging individuals to “opt outside” and offers an interactive map listing the closest outdoor trails to your location with helpful hints on difficulty level and length of each trail.

For those looking for other greener ways to spend a four-day weekend, we’ve found some creative alternatives to share with family and friends.

1. Enjoy the beautiful outdoors


At Weston Bend State Park, guests can enjoy more than 10 miles of trails, and sweeping views of the Missouri River from a scenic overlook.

Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (KDWPT) is following REI’s lead on promoting the outdoors to the public and their own employees. KDWPT encourages people to spend part of the day hiking and relieve the stress of crowded holiday shopping. “We’re just trying to say go ahead and make a state park as part of you’re holiday weekend or all of your holiday to take a hike,” said Linda Lanterman, Kansas state parks division director.

KDWPT encourages individuals in their state parks to take a selfie and upload it to Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #MyKansasStatePark. Individuals will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a cabin stay for the next year through KDWPT.

Shawnee Mission Park in Shawnee, KS offers trails that are suitable for running, hiking and mountain biking. The park also is home to a 120-acre lake and is a popular spot to fish and sail.

Swope Park in Kansas City, MO is one of the city’s largest parks and contains several trailheads. The trail is a little bit more difficult than Shawnee Mission Park’s trails, but it is one of the more popular and is a great scenic choice.

2. Spend a day in frontier living

If hiking is not your forte, Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm in Olathe, KS, an 1860s site focusing on frontier life, farming and stagecoach travel, is hosting its fourth annual 1860s Living History event Friday, November 27. All ages are welcome to attend the event and enjoy historic activities like stagecoach rides, blacksmith and cook-stove demonstrations, 19th century games and a visit to the historic Mahaffie House. It is located at 1200 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe, KS. For more information, contact Alexis Woodall at 913-971-5111.

“We want to be available for people to have something to do with their relatives and friends while they are in town to give people an option to have that hands-on living history experience,” said Woodall, Mahaffie special events coordinator. “It still gives people an opportunity to do some of the shopping if they want to, but it also gives them a break too. It’s not involving an electronics screen or anything like that, but it’s still engaging and a learning activity as well.”

3. Shop at fair-trade and local businesses

For those that still want to do some shopping, choose to support local businesses on Saturday, November 28 for “Small Business Saturday.” The concept was created by American Express five years ago to show support for small businesses.

This year, Waldo will be hosting a Shop Small Saturday Crawl and will be partnering with Brookside and Southtown. Visiting five stores in Waldo will earn shoppers “Waldo bucks,” which can be redeemed at Family Bicycles. Shoppers can pick up a Shop Small Saturday Crawl passport at any of the stores involved in the event. The crawl will last from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Shop Small Saturday Crawl participants:

  • Waldo Jewelers 7437 Broadway Kansas City, MO
    Specializes in bridal, custom and jewelry repair
  • Brookside Betty’s 7443 Broadway, Kansas City, MO
    Retro and vintage clothing and accessories
  • Eclectics Gallery 7015 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO
    Handmade gifts and art by local artists, including jewelry, home décor and apparel
  • Family Bicycles 7337 Broadway, Kansas City, MO
    Independent bike shop selling commuting and recreational bikes and accessories. Also offers bicycle repair services.
  • Off the Floor Woodwork 7142 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO
    Offers custom wood art and furniture from refurbished and reclaimed wood
  • Waldo T-Shirts 8009 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO
    Custom print shirts using eco-friendly materials

There are several other shops participating in the Saturday event, and more information will be released on the Waldo Facebook page as the date gets closer.

4. Support local artisans

In Lawrence there are several opportunities to buy from local producers, craftspersons and fair-trade providers.

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