In 2015, one of the largest outdoor retailers in the country decided to take a stand against the consumer mania of Black Friday. For the past four years, REI has closed its doors on the Friday following Thanksgiving, encouraging its customers to spend the day enjoying the outdoors, rather than shopping. They dubbed this campaign #optoutside, and it has had an incredible ripple effect through the industry, gaining a following from other retailers, outdoors enthusiasts, and even outdoor novices. This initiative reflects the company’s values of consuming less and nurturing a love of the outdoors.
For many of us who enjoy the outdoors through game pursuits, our default is already to be out in the field on that extra day off after Turkey Day. Hunting seasons are in full swing, and there’s nowhere we’d rather be. (Particularly not standing in line outside walmart). However, we are losing members of our tribe at an alarming rate, recruitment is dismal, and our reputation has certainly seen better days. There are fewer and fewer of us living the hunting lifestyle. Supporting a campaign like this could provide a much-needed boost to hunting participation. It may not seem like a one day event could make much difference, but hunters know that one great day outdoors can be life-changing. One squirrel, one fish, one quail, or even just a moment spent together, may be all it takes to launch someone’s nature based life.
The lack of notice or interest in this movement by the rod & gun crowd is likely a casualty of the divide between us and the camp & hike sector. Much has been lost due to this divisiveness, and working towards further cooperation can only benefit the land we all love. One thing we can all agree on is that someone who loves recreating in the outdoors is more likely to put effort into caring for those resources. For 2019, REI has taken their commitment a step further by introducing the hashtag #opttoact, encouraging folks to use their day outdoors to participate in a clean-up or other conservation-minded act. Again, this is something many of us already do on a regular basis. We pick up other hunters’ spent shells, we fish trash out of the river on the way to our duck hole, we clean up honey bun wrappers in the boat dock parking lot. Some of us even make our living creating wildlife habitat. Most of us do this quietly, avoiding notice or praise. However, the more noise we make about our efforts to care for the earth and its creatures, the higher the chance of others jumping on board. Social media has connected us in unprecedented ways, and allowed us to create movements with a hashtag. Documenting your time spent outdoors, when most of the country is at the mall, and using the #optoutside hashtag, has the potential for huge impact. Introducing anyone to any form of outdoor activity or lifestyle is always a step in the right direction, for all of us.
So this Black Friday, we encourage everyone to #optoutside. If you’re already planning a hunt, make plans to take someone with you. Take a selfie of you and your kid in the deer stand, or you and your buddies in the duck blind. Show off the bag of spent shells you collect, and help show that the ones who leave them behind are the minority. We have an opportunity to write a better story about who we are, not just by opting out on Black Friday, but by loudly and proudly living our best Nature Based Life every day.
As an extra incentive, we are doing a GIVEAWAY! Tag @natureseye in your #optoutside and #opttoact posts and stories on Friday, and you’ll be entered to win one of our exclusive Leather Patch Logo Hats. You must also be following our @natureseye instagram account. We’ll be sharing your entries in our stories all day!
We’re giving away Tucker’s hat! *Axe-wielding stud not included.
How to enter the GIVEAWAY:
1. Follow @natureseye on instagram
2. #optoutside on Black Friday
The winner will be announced Saturday morning! Good luck!