Unless you have lived under a rock for the last ten years, you have heard about Black Friday. The number 1 shopping day in Europe and North America has seen revenue growth every single year since 2008. Buying products and services on Black Friday can save you a lot of money. Many retailers save their best offers to this day.
This also has a bad effect: the environmental impact. As people are tempted to buy things they do not really need, many consumers end up buying products that they will throw away before New Year’s Eve.
PS! At the end of the article, I am writing a section called “Black Friday in Numbers”. This is to make you understand how crazy this shopping day really is and how much it has taken off over the last years.
As the CEO of Amazon.com, you would probably be happy by reading that paragraph.
As an environmentalist, you will probably become a bit sad.
In a hurry? Let’s give you the eight “Green Black Friday Tips” straight away
This is what you should do in order to go into the christmas season with good conscience:
1. Do not buy stuff you don’t really need. It might sound easy, but 95 % of stuff bought on Black Friday is…trash.
2. If you have to buy something, please buy some eco-friendly products.
3. If you are going out to shop, please use public transportation.
4. Buy in bulk.
5. Reduce plastic pollution. Do not purchase from companies that use plastic-heavy packaging.
6. There are loads of great products to buy…like a bamboo toothbrush or a bike. 🙂 These items are often on sale on Black Friday.
7. Staying home is not only better for the planet. It’s also good for your safety. Some people will start a fight over that XBOX to 399 $.
8. Online shopping leaves a smaller carbon footprint compared to driving that car to the store.
1. “Do I really need this?”
Buying 20 pack of underwear for 25 $ might sound like a good idea at Black Friday, but it probably isn’t. Huffington Post published a very interesting article about the environmental impact of Black Friday. Two main points from this article:
– Every American produces on average 35 kilos of clothing waste every year. Something tells me that people should start buying less, not more clothes.
– About 29 % of all electronic waste is recycled in the USA. 71 % either ends up in nature or through other waste systems that are not suitable to handle electronic waste.
Those facts are quite sad.
Can you really do a bargain on Black Friday? Or is it just all marketing?
A study from Nerdwallet was quite revealing to shed light on this topic. They gathered a wide range of offers from Black Friday 2013 and compared them to what was offered on Black Friday 2014.
Well, it turns out that 93 % of the shops offered an identical “offer” two years in a row. The study also showed that a lot of large shops use Black Friday to empty their “overstock”, meaning that they offer old outdated products.
In other words: your “exclusive Black Friday offer!!!” does not seem to be very exclusive at all.
2. Buy something that makes your home more eco-friendly
Just take a look away from your screen. If you sit at home, you will probably instantly see something that is not good for the environment. All the plastic bottles of water you buy every week? Replace them with a water cooler.
Or the lamp standing in the corner? What about buying some LED lights for them?
You should spend Black Friday searching for products that reduce the environmental impact of your home. There are loads of products that got this effect – and many online shops that sell those.
If you want to know how I made my own (much) more eco-friendly by implementing some simple steps, feel free to read this article. I bet you will become inspired (and maybe even jealous!). 🙂
3. Use public transport
If you plan to go shopping on Black Friday: please don’t contribute to the air pollution. Research from the UK shows that Black Friday causes a spike in air pollution every single year.
Forget about the car. Use train, subway, bus or – even better – your bike.
Money.com wrote an article called “Car Accidents Spike 34 % on Black Friday“.
4. Buy in bulks
Try to plan as much as you can. What do your kids want for Christmas Eve? And doesn’t your auntie have a birthday in February?
Shipping one package from Amazon is definitely more environmentally friendly than having them send three different packages. If you have some storage space in your home, you should try to utilize them. Not only do you save the environment, but with all the great offers you will probably save money as well.
5. Buy less plastic.
The amount of plastic being produced and sold is frightening.
Let me just quickly run through a couple of facts for you:
– About 40 % of all plastic made is used towards packaging for consumer products.
– One million plastic bags are given out every single minute. Every minute!!
– The average plastic bag is only used for 15 minutes. After that, most people consider them to be trash.
– Between 2008 and 2018, the world produced more trash than between 1908 and 2008.
If you can avoid buying plastic on Black Friday: please do it. I know that most online shops provide some type of plastic when shipping products (after all, its convenient and cheap, huh?). However, try to find those who don’t.
6. Use Black Friday to start a more eco-friendly lifestyle
Things you can buy in order to create a more environmentally friendly (and healthier) lifestyle:
– A bike.
– A microwave.
– Bamboo toothbrush.
If you wonder about how these items can help you live a “greener” life, you should really read this article.
7. For the sake of your own safety: stay home!
If you don’t have to run around in your local shopping mall on Black Friday, you should stay home. People tend to go mental during these shopping days. There has even been created a website purely to show the number of deaths occurred in physical shops on Black Friday:
Video: Crazy Black Friday Fights
One of my favorite videos on Youtube is called “Top 10 Worst Black Friday Fights“. It makes me kind of sad to know that human people act like this when they try to buy material items. The world is mad.
8. Shop online!
The chances of finding a good offer is significantly higher if you do online shopping. As retail stores are general have much higher costs, shopping online can save you a lot of money. And what is better than having the product being sent directly to your doorstep?
From an environmental perspective, saving the world from having you drive back and forth to the shop is also a positive thing.
Black Friday in numbers
Please note that all numbers are given by the Black Friday in 2017.
– 5 billion dollars spent in America.
– A solid 16.9 % increase YoY (Year-over-year) from 2016.
– Smartphone purchases saw a 39 % growth YoY, which is projected to increase in the years to come.
– 174 million Americans shopped during the Thanksgiving weekend. That counts for more than 50 % of the total US population.
– The actual number of people visiting physical stores dropped with 4 % from 2016 to 2017. People would rather sit home and shop on their computer/phone/tablet rather than risking their lives in Walmart.
– Black Friday is no longer a unique, American “tradition”. In fact, Brits spent 2.4 million dollars per minute during the big shopping day in 2017. Other European countries apparently saw similar numbers, but no official statistics have been published.
– Now over to the environmental aspect. According to a study published by TheSun in the UK, one out of ten people will buy products that they do not use post-Black Friday. These items included stereos, TVs, clothing and mobile phones.
– The same article covers the topic: “is it really much cheaper to buy products on Black Friday?”. After all, it would be weird if all the shops around the world miraculously had much better margins on their products in November. It turns out that “discount” does not always mean “discount”. Some shops tend to increase their prices a couple of weeks before, just to make the impression of offering a great offer on Black Friday.
– In US, household waste increases by around 30 % during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Some, but not all of it, can be allocated to the big discounts on that specific Friday.
– As supermarkets are forced to increase their stock levels, the amount of food waste increases.
That was it. Sorry for writing this 1000-and-something word long post. But I hope it encouraged you to be a bit more careful about what to buy during the upcoming shopping holiday. After all, these advice can be quite useful any day of the year.