With a whole host of deals already circulating in the run up to Black Friday, the temptation to impulse buy in mass is palpable. However, the environmental damage caused by the overproduction and overconsumption that is Black Friday cannot be ignored. According to Oxfam, 13 million items of clothing end up in landfill every week in the UK, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests that the equivalent of one truck-load of textiles is landfilled or burned every second across the globe. Aside from clothing, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) claims that the world also produces up to 50 million tonnes of e-waste (electronic and electrical waste) each year, but less than 20% is formally recycled. Undoubtedly, rates of consumer spending skyrocket during Black Friday sales, with UK buyers expected to spend £6 billion in this year’s sales according to annual research findings.
With the high-street closed for lockdown this November in the UK, it’s likely many people will shop online for deals, making the most of next day delivery options despite the carbon footprint and sheer volumes of plastic packaging used to ship items. Based on a report by the Associated Press, the retail giant Amazon, which offers a tempting array of Black Friday deals online each year, has one of the largest carbon footprints of any business and emitted a staggering 51.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide last year alone.
This year, environmental activists are pushing for a greener alternative to Black Friday, aptly named ‘Green Friday’. The campaign encourages consumers to take a stand against the usual hysteria of spending and instead either buy nothing or shop solely from environmentally responsible brands and companies, small local business or second-hand sellers. Additionally, more than 300 retail brands this year are opting out of Black Friday in an attempt to ‘Make Friday Green Again’, encouraging consumers to upcycle, sell or recycle clothing they already own in an attempt to shed light on the negative impacts of consumerism. In doing so, consumers will be contributing to a circular system of restoration and recycling, keeping products in use, regenerating natural resources and reducing waste and pollution. Environmental charity ‘The First Mile’ suggests shoppers should “take a moment to reflect” on whether or not they really need or want a particular item and why.
Do you really need the item or are you tempted because it’s on sale? Can you find a sustainable alternative? Can you shop locally to reduce your carbon footprint and support small businesses? Can you upcycle an item you already own? Check out our tips for Waste Solutions here!