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  • How Does Black Friday Affect the Environment?

How Does Black Friday Affect the Environment?

Dec 16 2018 Read 873 Times

The Friday immediately following Thanksgiving in the USA has been a popular day for those keen to make an early start for over half a century. The name “Black Friday” first appeared in print in 1966, when police began to use the term to refer to massive queues, gridlock and overcrowding that occurred in city centres in the scramble for goods. Latterly, the phenomenon has migrated to the UK as well.

While Black Friday might be a unique opportunity to bag a bargain and cross off all the recipients on your Christmas list in one fell swoop, it can have damaging consequences for the environment. With more and more of our shopping habits taking place online now, the offer of expedited delivery from many internet marketplaces is one that is too good to refuse for lots of consumers - but one which could negatively impact the state of our planet.

A surge in consumerism

Both Black Friday and its close counterpart Cyber Monday have become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years. Indeed, according to analytics company Adobe, five of the busiest days for consumers throughout the whole year will take place between November 21st and November 26th in 2018.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Deloitte found that on average, consumers intend to spend a fifth more on Christmas presents this year than they did last. What’s more, 57% of those transactions are expected to take place online as opposed to in brick-and-mortar stores. This will inevitably have an impact on the amount of home deliveries being conducted this month and next.

The environmental cost of Christmas

With online marketplaces like Amazon offering expedited delivery (often free of charge or at reduced prices), distribution of goods is now having a bigger effect than before. This is because suppliers must favour speed over efficiency and as such are unable to group various orders together into a single journey. This, in turn, results in a far higher carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, the vast amounts of clothing, electronic items and plastic products which we consume contribute to a throwaway culture wherein much waste is generated and too little is recycled. In particular, microplastic pollution is becoming a ubiquitous problem due to the fact that tiny microfibres are found in all manner of consumer goods, from clothes and accessories to laptops and toys.

What can be done?

First and foremost, you can pass up the opportunity of one-day delivery and group your purchases into as few orders as possible. You can also attempt to limit your consumption of electronic products, since the vast amounts of e-waste generated across the world contribute to rising levels of fire-retardant chemicals in the environment, causing a grave health and environmental concern.

Finally, choosing recycled or upcycled products or buying “experience” gifts for your friends and family is a great way to show your love for them without contributing to the huge amounts of waste in the world. Thinking long-term sustainability instead of immediate gratification is the best way to ensure your Black Friday doesn’t leave a black mark on the planet.  

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