Black Friday is here again, with retailers seeking to persuade us to buy things we never knew we needed. This begs the question, is all our buying costing the planet?
Environmental activists have long campaigned against consumption culture, with many arguing Black Friday celebrates unnecessary consumption with a detrimental impact on the environment.
What is Black Friday?
Originally an annual U.S-only event, Black Friday is now a global event, with many retailers and brands taking part by offering slashed product prices to kick off the festive shopping season.
The original use of the phrase Black Friday dated back to 1869 and had absolutely nothing to do with shopping! Black Friday Originally was the day falling gold prices caused a market crash, the effects of which were felt by the U.S. economy for years.
As the phrase 'Black Friday' gained momentum in the late 1980s, retailers objected to the negative term used to describe one of the most important shopping days of the year. Retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year. During the holiday season, they made their profit (with standard accounting practices recording financial gains in black ink and economic losses in red ink). Black Friday was rebranded as the beginning of when retailers would no longer be "in the red".
Why Do We Refuse Black Friday?
At Partage, we are against the negative impact of overconsumption (for people and our planet!), so below, we will discuss five reasons why we refuse Black Friday:
1. Black Friday promotes overconsumption
Not only are Black Friday sales centred upon drastically slashed prices, but importantly, they're also a "limited time only" event. Black Friday draws us in with the promise of great deals, then adds the threat that they'll only be around for a limited time, encouraging a false sense of urgency and impulse purchases.
A UN report has affirmed that sustainable consumption and production can significantly contribute to poverty alleviation and the transition towards low-carbon and green economies, highlighting the importance of reduced consumption for people and our planet.
Credits: Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash
2. Black Friday skews the perception of value
By encouraging consumers to wait until prices drop before they purchase, Black Friday emphasises low prices over real product value.
Such low prices for goods are often only possible because of cheap labour (which doesn't reflect the time and resources used to make the products). When we only focus on product price when determining whether to purchase, we overlook the resources used to make the product, the impact of global shipping, and workers' labour along the supply chain.
Credits: Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash
3. Black Friday generates a massive amount of waste
When doing Christmas shopping on Black Friday prompted by a false sense of scarcity, this may tempt consumers to buy more than planned.
Research suggests £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfills each year. Furthermore, other waste (on top of the gifts), such as plastic postage materials, boxes, cello tap, and shopping bags, all add up further, contributing to unnecessary wastage accumulated in landfills.
Credits: Photo by Marc Newberry on Unsplash
4. Black Friday contributes to High CO2 emissions
As a harmful greenhouse gas, excessive CO2 creates a cover trapping the sun's heat energy in the planet's atmospheric bubble, warming the earth and our oceans.
Credits: Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash
Last year U.K. price comparison website Money.co.uk estimated that British Black Friday deliveries would churn out an enormous 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of 435 return flights from London to New York!
From the production of the products themselves to the immense production of CO2 used to deliver products from online purchases, Black Friday Contributes to excess CO2 emissions, which are harming our planet at an alarming rate.
5. Black Friday reduces conscious buying
Our final reason for refusing Black Friday is that it reduces conscious buying, negatively impacting our environment. Conscious consumerism is critical as by eliminating impulse buys and opting for companies and products that create a positive impact (both environmentally and socially), consumers can make a real difference!
Credits: Photo by the blowup on Unsplash
By opting out of impulse purchases encouraged by Black Friday, focusing on product quality (not simply low prices), and focusing on purchasing from sustainable products on websites such as Partage, this can help avoid unnecessary CO2 emissions created by excessive consumption.