It’s no surprise that the environmental impact of Black Friday is huge. Despite the surprising lack of numbers concerning the American holiday, there are a few statistics that reveal just how harmful the day can be! The University of Leeds in England produced a study finding that 400,000 tons of CO2 would be released into the atmosphere solely from online order deliveries from Black Friday purchases in England alone.
Additionally, as noted in an article by Salmon Haqqi, this CO2 production is equivalent to 435 flights between New York and London. These 400,000 tons of greenhouse gases are shocking when comparing the UK and America, the UK spending 1 billion in 2018, and the US spending 6 billion. As a country, the US is contributing much more to climate change on Black Friday than most of Europe combined.
So, how can you have an “eco” Black Friday shopping experience? I’d start by asking two questions while considering a purchase. First, ask yourself if you really need the item. Over 80% of all items purchased throughout the year in the US get thrown out unused. This obviously adds unnecessary waste to landfills! Something I’ve grown to really appreciate are the people who plan out what they buy on Black Friday weeks ahead of time. They give themselves time to think through their options as conscious consumers, without making impulse purchases, producing less waste in the long run.
Many also use the day to buy Christmas presents. If you're having trouble deciding on environmentally-friendly gifts to give, check out the holiday eco-friendly gift guide we're promoting here at Refillism! Before buying the gift, think if it will be useful to the person you're shopping for.
Secondly, ask yourself if there is a more sustainable option. The most commonly bought items on Black Friday tend to be clothing and other accessories. According to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, “textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.” For clothing, instead of shopping on Black Friday, maybe wait to shop until Small Business Saturday. Many small businesses will have deals, and you’ll be supporting something other than fast fashion companies.
In York, there are many stores that sell great vintage styles, and buying secondhand is always the more eco-friendly option. Here's a shoutout to some great vintage store in the area: Revolt Style Studios, My Girlfriend’s Wardrobe, and Artemis Vintage! Another zero-waste option would be to participate in a “Black Friday clothing swap” with friends and family. Everything would be 100% free! If you’d rather shop online, check out Good On You for extensive listings on different ethical clothing brands.
Obviously clothing is only one of many things purchased on Black Friday, but this example plays into working against the consumer mindset. As 40% of shoppers tend to spend more money than they intend to during a shopping spree, it’s always important to think through whether you really will use something, or enjoy it, before purchasing. This advice is all to help us decrease the amount of waste we produce, which is 4.9 pounds per person in the US alone every day! With that in mind, try going forward this November and shop mindfully, looking for green businesses to support!
The Environmental Impact of Black Friday Sales. Science the Wire. https://science.thewire.in/environment/black-friday-sale-environmental-impact/\
H, Salmon. The Dirty Delivery Report; counting the carbon cost of online shopping. Money. https://www.money.co.uk/guides/dirty-delivery-report-2020
Global Black Friday Statistics for 2021: What You Need to Know. Nosto. https://www.nosto.com/blog/black-friday-statistics/
P, Libby and Caterina Brandmayr. Building a Circular Economy: How a new approach to infrastructure can put an end to waste. Green Alliance. https://green-alliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Building_a_circular_economy.pdf
D, Jennifer. 14 Hard Facts About Fast Fashion and the Industry Behind It. Good on You. https://goodonyou.eco/fast-fashion-facts/
National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes, and Recycling. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/national-overview-facts-and-figures-materials
Black Friday Statistics. Consumer Decisions. https://consumerdecisions.org/black-friday-statistics/
R, Rosa, Paula Lopez, and Miguel Varela. Factors Affecting Impulse Buying of Consumers. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.697080/full