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Black Friday: its environmental impact

We have reached that period of the year in which we tend to a greater consumerism. This is also stimulated by key dates such as the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday when large quantities of discounts are launched to encourage purchasing. 

These dates began as two days in the year when exclusive discounts could be obtained for Christmas, but they have increasingly become more extended campaigns promoting the purchase of articles in the month of November. Data such as “7 out of 10 Spaniards will buy on Black Friday (Directia and Mediaspot)” or “3 out of 5 users will buy impulsively (acierto.com)” backs it up.

But, have you ever thought about the environmental impact of Black Friday?

We are going to analyze it, keep reading: 

Transport

Many users will opt for online shopping, a trend that is likely to increase this year due to the health situation we are experiencing. According to the study Black Friday 2020 of the consulting firm Tandem, this year 71% of Spaniards will make their purchases online. 

What does this mean? Transporting all the goods to different points selected by users will pollute as a carbon footprint is generated by traveling distances and burning fuel. Items that will be distributed in trucks, boats, or even airplanes. In addition, this impact will doubled when we have to return any product. 

To get an idea of the environmental impact, according to the Spanish Business Organization for Logistics and Transport (UNO), 50 million shipments will be made corresponding to the purchases of Black Friday. This is 30% more than in 2019. 

Packaging

We have just addressed the number of shipments that are estimated to be sent after this weekend. We already have a figure with which we can get a general idea of  the number of materials that will be used for the packaging of those items.

We are talking about boxes, bags, envelopes, etc. that will mostly end up in landfill. Few of the giants in this campaign have packaging that is more environmentally friendly, so it’s up to us to recycle what we can. 

The carbon footprint of the products

In a previous article in our blog, we talked about the life cycle of a product. We made visible how the production chain is and how a product in each one of the steps contaminates: from its creation until the moment it becomes waste.

This year, fashion is the category that will receive the most purchase intention, 41% (Directia and Mediaspot). According to data from the World Bank, this industry is responsible for 10% of the total global emissions, more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. In addition, this type of products usually end up in landfill. In Spain, not even 10% of clothing is recycled, and in Europe, it is less than 25% (Greenpeace). 

After analyzing how Black Friday has an environmental impact, here are some tips to reduce yours:

  • Analyze what you already have so that you don’t fall into impulse buying.
  • Do you really need it?
  • Find out if small and local businesses have a similar product and support them!
  • Also support those brands that are contributing to sustainability.
  • If you buy online: Make sure you are at home when the order arrives – avoid having the carrier make several trips! 👉 Another option is the option of picking them up at courier offices, so we can make sure that the package does not make several trips and we can also go and pick them up by bike or walking😉
  • Find out if the company you buy from is offsetting their carbon footprint.