Year of Environmental Action: Anti-Consumerism for Black Friday
25th November 2022
November is a month notorious for consuming, with the often frantic lead-up to Christmas and the chaos that can be Black Friday. Born in the USA to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season, retailers slash their prices and shoppers can try and grab themselves a bargain, with varying levels of chaos. In the excitement, we may buy things we might not need, something I am definitely guilty of, to the dismay of my belongings that have sat in drawers or cupboards untouched for a while now! Whilst the savings can be great, there are hidden disadvantages to Black Friday that we often ignore.
One of the first things to consider is the environmental footprint of the increased amount of purchases, which all need delivering after all. Last year it was estimated that over 100 million transactions were made on Black Friday alone; that is a lot of deliveries! A rough estimate has placed the amount of carbon emitted caused by Black Friday last year at 386,243 tonnes, equal to that emitted on 215 flights between London and Sydney.
And it’s not just deliveries we have to think about; with each new purchase there may be an older, potentially still working product getting binned and taken to landfill. In 2020 research from Forbes suggested that 80% of products bought were thrown away immediately or used once, which is a staggering number showing the extent of the wastefulness caused by Black Friday.
All this goes without mentioning working conditions and pay for the people producing our purchases and sorting deliveries across the globe, put it all together and it paints a pretty poor picture of our society as a whole. So what can we do to break our perennial spending habits?
There are so many options for buying second-hand at the moment, eBay, Vinted, charity shops or even auction houses are a great way of breaking the cycle of manufacturing new products. Going out and having a bit of a treasure hunt in second-hand shops is a top past time of mine, I’ve come home with all kinds of clothes, gifts and records that now have a loving home. Get Out More staff have agreed to opt for second hand only for our Secret Santa gift giving this year.
Why own when you can borrow? A trend I noticed that seemed to be taking off whilst I was at university was the ‘Library of Stuff’; a place you can go to borrow different household items, ranging from power tools, tents, pizza ovens and party equipment, whatever you can think of. Keighley Library of Things and Buy Nowt LS6 are two local -to-me libraries that have a good range of different items to borrow, helping you save money and the environment.
Buy Local or Small
Buying from small or local businesses is a great way to support the ethical production of gifts. There are always plenty of makers markets, vintage markets and Christmas markets at this time of the year which are often full of handcrafted, bespoke gifts that you might not normally find in regular shops and online. Etsy is also an option for buying from small businesses and has a real wealth of gifts of every type, but use caution! Many listings on Etsy are actually mass-produced and can be found on Amazon, Ali Express and even B&M. If you’re stuck on how to find a market near you, Facebook’s event search is a great tool to find events you might not normally see.
The last and best option is to just buy nothing! If you are in a position where you don’t need anything new, make the choice to buy nothing this Black Friday, you’ll be taking drivers off the roads, waste out of landfill and be saving money at the same time. For “Buy Nothing day”, why not ditch the sales and use the time and money you save on experiences, spending time in nature or learning a new skill.
By Ryan Passmore
Marketing and Project Assistant