‘It’s time to fight for life outdoors’: REI encourages shoppers to #OptOutside on Black Friday

While other retailers will be encouraging shoppers to take advantage of Black Friday deals to save some green, REI wants them to go outside and experience green.

For the fifth year, the Seattle-based outdoor retailer will close its stores the day after Thanksgiving – considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year – as part of its #OptOutside initiative. It won’t process online payments but will pay its 13,000 employees, the company announced Wednesday.

But this year, the co-op, which stands for Recreational Equipment Inc., is taking the initiative further and asking its employees and 18 million members to “opt to act” and join a nationwide clean-up effort, CEO Eric Artz told USA TODAY. Locations of environmental cleanups will be posted on the REI website, www.rei.com.

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“We’re still going to go outside and play – but this time we’re bringing our work gloves. And we’re inviting you to join us,” Artz wrote in a letter to members. “It’s time to fight for life outdoors – and life on this planet.”

REI stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, too, bucking another trend of earlier holiday sales.

REI started #OptOutside in 2015 and has been working toward zero-waste operations and challenging the industry to eliminate unnecessary packaging.

Artz, who became CEO in May, said he wanted to take “a bolder stand on climate and climate change.” However, Artz said it’s about more than one day and the company is launching a year of actions with the Opt to Act plan.

“This is a first step in a new journey for us, because we also will be launching 52 weeks of climate action where we will be inviting consumers on a weekly basis into the small steps that each and every one of us can be taking to live a life that’s kinder to the planet,” he said.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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