Black Friday has never sat well with us. No Friday should ever be black.
Climate change and pollution are more complex problems than people like to admit. We often refer to the problem as “we use too much stuff”, “there are too many people”, or even “we pollute too much”. All of those statements are true, unfortunately.
RELEVANT SUSTAINABLE GOALS
What is the origin of Black Friday?
Black Friday originated as a name for the day after Thanksgiving (which is always held on a Thursday) when factory workers called in sick to enjoy the long weekend. The phrase “Black Friday” was then adopted by the media as early as the 1960s. By the 1980s, it was recognized across America as a date for the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, kicking off with great discounts on popular items. As of the turn of the millennium, Western countries have also adopted Black Friday, and you can find sales in places like the UK, Canada, and France to name a few.
Like fast fashion, Black Friday encourages mass consumption and encourages people to buy products solely because they are on sale; irrespective of how often the product will be used. Most products are used a few times and then discarded, with the majority being disposed of in landfills. In addition, the Black Friday sales consume millions of tonnes of resources, which are required to manufacture and ship these products.
Return shipping for products that are no longer wanted can increase emissions even further. In a study by the logistics company Optoro, 1.2 billion gallons of diesel were consumed and 12 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted in the process of returning items purchased during the sales. That was just in the US alone.
Black Friday Waste Facts And Statistics
There is no denying that Black Friday waste have an extremely detrimental impact on the environment. Here are 5 highly concerning statistics about Black Friday waste:
- 80% of products bought at Black Friday end up in landfill, are incinerated, or are recycled poorly – source
- Only 29% of electronic waste caused by Black Friday is recycled
- This year’s (2022) Black Friday is expected to produce 429,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from product deliveries alone – that’s the same as 435 return flights from London to New York!
- 1.4 million tonnes of e-waste is sent to landfill every year
Could Black Friday Actually Be A Good Thing ?
Yes and no. In terms of the environment, no. However, there is some debate about whether this applies to business owners and consumers. Businesses can profit by selling off stock that is difficult to move and consumers can get discounted prices on gifts and items they want to buy.
To get the best of both worlds, businesses and consumers should do their best to reduce the amount of waste produced by Black Friday. Here’s what you need to think about about Black Friday:
- Can this product be packaged in recyclable material
- Can this product be made recyclable?
- Do we need to stock this much of this product?
- Can we donate our unsold stock?
- Do I need to buy this?
Remember that it’s okay to buy nothing. Buying something you don’t need only makes for more waste.