Leading environmental compliance data specialists Ecoveritas has called on E-commerce retailers not to overlook the vast unnecessary waste created by Black Friday and Cyber Monday and to make greener choices in the future.
The retail bonanzas are now vital dates in the calendar, and with our inboxes full of ‘unbeatable’ offers, masses of potential customers flocked online in search of bargains and cut-price deals.
With millions of transactions having gone through as shoppers snapped up bargains, advocates have warned that sales are harmful to the environment and promote excessive consumption.
Ecoveritas’ Head of Sustainability Consulting, Kathy Illingworth was keen to highlight that Black Friday bargains will likely lead to excess waste and recycling, mainly cardboard and paper. It also risks an increase in contaminants, including polystyrene and bubble wrap.
“The bulk of holiday consumerism is often short-lived,” she said. “And all these products come in an excessive amount of packaging. Put simply, we’ve flooded an already struggling recycling system with mountains of cardboard and packaging waste.
“Vast amounts of valuable resources will have been lost to the economy. With up to 80% of items – and any plastic packaging they are wrapped in – ending up landfilled or incinerated, it only highlights the need for new business models, facilities, and logistics to lower consumption and enable take back, repair, remanufacture and reuse of products.
“Should the government consider banning?Black Friday due to the impact on the planet and the promotion of unsustainable consumption habits?
“Extended Producer Responsibility will provide a high-value circular economy that could generate billions of pounds for the?economy, and by failing to invest in the right infrastructure that supports reduced resource use, we are, in effect, perpetuating the linear economy.”
Several alternatives have emerged in the face of the rampant consumerism that Black Friday brings. People increasingly mark “Green Friday” in various ways - from sustainable shopping choices to ditching the high street altogether - but an environmental focus remains consistent.
Some ethical brands are pushing for change by refusing to participate in the Black Friday sales.
Patagonia is known for promoting conscious consumption with their ‘Don’t buy this Jacket’ campaign that draws attention to the waste produced by the clothing industry and fast fashion.
DECIEM skincare brand has taken the boycott further with their "BYE-BYE BLACK FRIDAY" campaign. Now in its second year the brand shuts down all physical and e-commerce stores for the day to reduce the impact of the sales period on the planet.
However, despite all the ills, boycotting Black Friday, fast fashion or any sales event could be argued is a matter of privilege. Let’s not forget, most of us cannot afford items such as clothing, furniture, electronics at their full retail price. The solution? Plan and only buy what you absolutely need, buy products with longer life spans and support small, ethical businesses when you can.
Illingworth added: “Although 2022 won’t be the year sustainable choices drown out unsustainable products, the momentum being gathered will be key to driving behaviour change.
“We as consumers must remember that we all have a responsibility to make sure our packaging is being recycled where possible. Even if we are inundated with unnecessary packaging by big online retailers. If you are unsure, or need to locate your closest waste management facility, click here.”