The holidays are coming up; and we all know what that means: holiday sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But before we line up at our favorite store at 4 am, it might be worth it to ask, what are the negatives to Black Friday? Not only do Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales require people to deal with swarms of shoppers and an influx in online orders, but these actions affect our environment, too.
To curb the impact of our consumption, here are some Black Friday eco tips and sustainable shopping considerations for Cyber Monday.
How Does Black Friday Affect the Environment?
Sweet deals have become too irresistible to pass up and in recent years, more of us have been Black Friday shoppers. In 2002, Americans spent $416.40 billion on Black Friday shopping. In 2021, we spent $886.7 billion—a 14.1% increase. This isn’t just impacting our wallets, it’s taking a toll on the planet, too.
In the UK alone, Black Friday shopping was responsible for roughly 429,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2020. In other words, our BOGO shoes or heavily “discounted” t-shirts are responsible for a carbon footprint that’s equivalent to 435 return flights from London to New York.
The environmental impact of Black Friday goes far beyond logistics. The “holiday” itself promotes overconsumption—particularly of poor-quality, cheap, easily-replaceable goods. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype and end up with something unnecessary. In fact, a report from 2019 said that up to 80% of our Black Friday goods (and their packaging) end up in landfills or incinerators after a very short life.
And things aren’t looking any greener for Cyber Monday.
Why is Cyber Monday Not Sustainable?
As people shifted to making more purchases online, the post-Thanksgiving holiday evolved. Following the Black Friday weekend, Cyber Monday purchases are actually higher than those on Black Friday. In 2021, they topped $10.7 billion in the US alone.
Not only does this influx of goods come with a hefty environmental footprint, but getting them to our homes does, too. Two-day shipping, like that offered to Amazon Prime members, is associated with a big carbon footprint (especially compared with slower shipping options).
Then there’s the packaging to contend with. It’s not unusual to receive a small hand-sized product in a huge box with bubble wrap or packing peanuts! As such, it’s not difficult to believe that Amazon alone was responsible for more than 599 million pounds of packaging waste in 2020—and much of this is a result of Cyber Monday purchases.
- As you learn how to recycle like a pro, remember that most Amazon packaging is made with some recycled material but is not recyclable itself.
How to Be More Sustainable for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
But enough with the bad news. Let’s talk about some sustainable Black Friday deals that are also a win for our planet. Because the truth is that there are ethical brands who are trying to do the right thing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday—by helping you sustainably save money! So, as you prepare for the big days of consumerism, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Adopt a less is more mentality
Instead of impulse buying, spend the weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday reviewing everything you already own. Then make a list of items you might want to purchase, but take some time to reflect on if they’ll bring true joy to your life. If you don’t absolutely need them, resist the urge to buy them on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
2. Support sustainable brands
If you can’t imagine the future you living without a new pair of jeans or headphones, take some time to explore options for greener, more ethical purchases. The big retailers are the typical winners during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you can support small, local, or sustainable companies, that’s great!
If you’re in need of household or personal care products for you or a gift, check out Green Eco Dreams’ favorite brands for inspiration.
3. Consider packaging and delivery footprints
Typical retailers tend to use plastic polybags and other non-recyclable shipping materials. They also offer super quick shipping—which can have a looooong negative impact on our planet.
If you want to have a greener Cyber Monday, shop with brands that use plastic-free packaging. If they also offer carbon neutral shipping, that’s even better!
Pssst… Green Eco Dream uses 100% plastic-free and post-consumer recycled shipping materials. Our boxes, labels, stickers, and even tape(!!) are compostable. Not only that, but we are a Certified Carbon Neutral Company. To compensate for the shipping of your Green Friday deals, we partner with Carbon Fund to support clean energy, reforestation, and conservation projects.
4. Buy secondhand gifts
If you plan to use the shopping holidays as a way to buy discounted gifts, consider an even cheaper option: secondhand shops! Thrift stores, consignment shops, and platforms like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace are a great way to get clothes, furniture, accessories, and more—at an excellent price.
5. Stock up on eco-friendly products
As another, more fun, way to reduce the packaging/shipping impact of your holiday purchases, you can consider buying in bulk.
If you know you’re going to need toothpaste, laundry detergent, and moisturizer to last the year, why not take advantage of discounts to buy an entire year’s worth? One delivery has a smaller impact than several individual ones, and it uses less packaging, too.
Black Friday, Green Forever
We hope these Black Friday eco tips help you prepare for the consumerist chaos in the coming weeks. At Green Eco Dream, we’ll be celebrating Green Friday instead. Stay tuned for planet-loving deals and more information about how to be sustainable throughout the holidays and well into next year.
Starting November 1st we'll have Black Friday Awareness Series, so make sure to sign-up here and get all the resources you need for a sustainable green friday.
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