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Some shop on Black Friday, others decide to #OptOutside

The Fusari & Patel families said, “[We were] inspired by the Cheshire and Southington Land Trusts to get outside today. We hiked to Heublein Tower in Simsbury. #optoutside”

CHESHIRE — On “Black Friday”, thousands of Connecticut shoppers pushed through the crowds towards bargains in stores across the state. Others stayed inside, scouting the best online deals.

But others pushed through the trees towards a scenic view, or went outside to scout a new trail.

It’s all part of #OptOutside, an idea to make Black Friday about having experiences, rather than getting things. The idea started five years ago, with the outdoor-gear retailer and co-op REI, when they decided to close their stores on the biggest retail day of the year.

CEO Eric Artz said wrote in a company blog this year that “#OptOutside has always brought out the best in this community. For five years in a row, we have closed our stores on the biggest shopping day of the year, processed no online sales and paid employees to spend the day outside with friends and family.”

The idea has inspired many others who don’t work or perhaps even shop at REI to do the same. Groups like the Sierra Club, The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Latino Outdoors to organize events or otherwise support “opting outside”.

The Cheshire Land Trust holds an annual “Opt Outside” hike. This year the land trust partnered with the Southington Land Conservation Trust to host a 90-minute educational hike that drew about 35 people to the Cheshire Land Trust’s Ives Farm. From there they hiked Cheshire Street Cemetery to learn a little history, and then continued on a 1-mile hike.

This year REI is also pushing people to set up an action plan to take steps all next year to reduce their environmental footprint. It started with a series of cleanups this month, including one today at Silver Sands State Park in Milford.

But organizers are hoping this doesn’t end on Friday, asking people to sign up for a new 52-week Opt to Act plan—sourced from tips shared by REI’s employees—and take the small steps throughout the year to reduce environmental impacts  “and create habits that last a lifetime.”

Click here for more information and see the Opt to Act plan.

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