Outdoor gear retailer REI Co-op will again close its stores on Black Friday this year, but is also asking its 13,000 employees and 18 million members to join a nationwide clean-up effort.
REI is asking members and employees to “opt to act” by signing up for a 52-week action plan to take steps throughout the year to reduce their environmental footprint and leave “the outdoors better than they found it.”
Employees have already launched the campaign and have collected more than 3.4 tons of trash around the country.
REI first launched its Black Friday protest, called #OptOutside, in 2015. The Kent-based retailer has paid employees and encouraged them to spend the day outdoors on Black Friday ever since.
This year, new CEO Eric Artz says that’s not enough.
“As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls,” Artz wrote in a letter to co-op members earlier this week. “We are in the throes of an environmental crisis that threatens not only the next 81 years of the co-op, but the incredible outdoor places that we love. Collective intention will drive collective impact.”
REI operates 157 stores in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the year. In 2018, consumers spent $6.22 billion on Black Friday, according to research firm DMR, which notes that the term was first used in Philadelphia in 1961.