It’s that time of year again when retailers across the world begin to slash their prices in order to entice Christmas shoppers with the best deals before the holidays. This annual tradition sees businesses make record sales and helps customers buy cheaper gifts — everybody wins, right?
Well, not exactly.
The opportunity to buy an essential item at a discounted rate is an attractive proposition, however, Black Friday merely perpetuates consumer culture which leads to significant adverse effects to the environment.
What is the environmental impact of Black Friday?
Although starting out as an American post-Thanksgiving tradition, Black Friday has evolved into an international event with many nations taking part in the sales. On top of that, retailers have begun to extend their Black Friday deal periods to as long as two weeks. What was once a campaign for brick-and-mortar stores to clear surplus stock ahead of Christmas has now become an online phenomenon, allowing shoppers the freedom to buy more items without needing to deal with the queues and crowds.
Not only is shopping from home more convenient for buyers, but it also intensifies the reliance on deliveries. With next-day delivery now the industry standard, retailers are no longer shipping orders in an economical way, instead choosing to focus on getting orders on the road quicker. This demand for speedy deliveries produces much higher levels of carbon into the atmosphere, as multiple vehicles are being used to transport the same amount of goods that could be shipped in a single lorry.
But it’s not just the deliveries of goods during Black Friday that are harmful to the environment: it’s the products themselves. The most common items purchased during Black Friday sales include:
Many people are drawn to the hefty discounts that come with TVs, computers and smartphones during Black Friday events. However, any electronics that are replaced by these shiny new products — and eventually these new products themselves — will become electronic waste or ‘e-waste’. Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing domestic waste streams, with the UN finding that only 17.4% of e-waste was collected and recycled last year.
Electronic devices also run a health risk of leaking toxic materials like mercury and lead into the air, water and soil when discarded in landfills.
Clothing is a necessity, so what’s wrong with buying cheap clothes?
The problem is that our consumer culture has resulted in an incredible amount of waste produced by customers who over-purchase cheap, mass-produced clothing items. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation conducted a study which estimates that a truckload of clothing is wasted every second due to thoughtless fast fashion purchases.
To make things worse, discarded clothing often contains harmful microplastic which will eventually pollute the ocean.
Simply look around your home to see just how much plastic we rely on as a society. Everything from toys to home appliances is made from plastic and even wrapped in the stuff when shipped to us. Unbelievably, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled, and as plastic takes up to 800 years to truly degrade, we’re going to be stuck with it for quite some time.
Too much plastic ends up in the ocean, polluting aquatic ecosystems and causing unnecessary injury to sea life.
What are we doing to help?
At Lunette, we’ve always believed in doing what we can to reduce the amount of waste produced from menstrual products. As most disposable period products will be around for longer than we will, we provide reusable options that last years and are shipped in 100% recyclable packaging. In fact, all carbon emissions from our deliveries are also compensated.
What can you do to help?
As well as donating to environmental organisations like City to Sea, supporting sustainable businesses and only buying what you need is one of the best ways you can help to defend against rampant consumerism through Black Friday and beyond. You can support sustainable businesses through our product purchases or your own contribution.
Sustainable business practices is something we’re passionate about. We work hard to create job opportunities, develop sustainable products and protect the environment.
We only have one earth, and by supporting companies that promote responsible business ethics, you’re helping to make that much more of a difference.
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