Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 25.
Sometimes brands use their social media prowess for good. REI does just that with its #OptOutside campaign, encouraging people to spend "Green Friday" outdoors rather than in an overcrowded mall.
Instead of just pushing a hashtag, the outdoor gear brand puts its money where its mouth is and pays more than 12,000 employees for the full day so they can spend it in the great outdoors. The company misses out on in-store sales on one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
In 2015, more than 1.4 million people and 170 organizations chose to #OptOutside rather than shop, and many state and national parks waived entrance fees as encouragement. Like Patagonia's move to donate 100% of all Black Friday sales to environmental causes, this is not only a selfless move on a company's part, but it also creates exceptionally positive branding.
Other companies participating in #OptOutside 2016 include Subaru, Google (GOOGL) , Meetup, Upworthy, Burton and Yeti.
Spending time outdoors? Hashtag your photos with #OptOutside to join in. There's already more than 2 million posts on Instagram alone with the tag. Scroll through if you have a minute -- there's some gorgeous photos of people eschewing consumerism (and brands using #influencer photos).