Black Friday may traditionally encourage overconsumption and generate significant waste, but there are sustainable ways to participate in this annual shopping extravaganza.
We’ve come up with 10 ways to reduce waste and help the environment by making small changes in your daily routine. By making mindful choices, we can enjoy the savings while minimizing our environmental impact.
Here are 10 ideas for celebrating Black Friday in an eco-friendly manner.
- Plan ahead
Before the big day arrives, create a list of the items you need or have been eyeing awhile. Avoid impulse purchases, which can lead to buying items you don’t really need or want. By planning ahead is a great way to reduce waste and make more eco-conscious choices.
- Support sustainable brands
Look for companies that make a priority of sustainability in their production processes and materials. Choose products made from organic, recycled or sustainable materials, and support brands committed to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting fair labor practices.
For example, when you purchase organic textiles products, it’s easy to forget the process of growing the fiber, manufacturing, processing, designing, producing and distributing organically is far better for the planet than conventional methods. We see a shirt we like, and we buy it. But what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. It’s important to remember our skin is our largest organ and primary organ for absorption. It makes sense to buy products that are clean and free from harmful chemicals so our skin is not absorbing toxic chemicals.
- Shop local
Consider shopping at local businesses rather than large chain stores. Supporting local businesses not only boosts your community’s economy but also reduces the carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping. You may find unique and eco-friendly products from local artisans and businesses.
Perhaps the most important reason to buy organic food or products locally is to lower transportation-related fossil fuel costs. Most produce travels about 1,500 miles from farm to plate, and this long-distance, large-scale transportation of food consumes large quantities of fossil fuels – about 10 times the amount of energy derived from fossil fuels as the energy we get from the food itself, according to Cuesa.
To take this one step further, many local farmers offer holiday specials during this time of year to guarantee a successful growing season. One of the most popular and cost-effective ways to support a local farm is to join community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program. With this model, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Consumers buy a share, like a subscription, and receive a box of fresh farm produce and other farm products each week during the farming season. Some CSAs also offer plants, flowers, and processed goods.
Learn more about supporting local organic ag with your Black Friday purchases and beyond the giving season here.
- Quality over quantity
Instead of buying many inexpensive, disposable items, opt for higher-quality, longer-lasting products. Durable items may cost more upfront but will reduce waste and save you money in the long run.
- Shopping for second-hand
Did you know the production of new clothes takes hundreds of gallons of water? Production of new textiles accounts for 10 percent of all carbon emissions on the planet. Consider buying clothing at a thrift or consignment store rather than purchasing something new. Not only does this contribute to a more circular textile industry but it also saves you money and often benefits a charity.
Thrift stores, vintage shops and online secondhand marketplaces offer great deals on pre-loved items. Secondhand purchases lower the demand for new production and help keep items out of landfills. They’re a sustainable way of finding unique and affordable products.
- Avoid fast fashion
Fast fashion contributes a lot to waste and pollution. This Black Friday, try to avoid fast fashion brands and choose sustainable, ethical fashion companies that make a priority of durability and fair labor practices.
- Bring your own bags
When you’re shopping, bring your own reusable bags to reduce the use of plastic bags. Many stores now charge for single-use bags, so having your own can also save you.
- Consider online
Shopping online can be more energy efficient than driving to physical stores, especially if you consolidate your orders into one shipment. Make sure to choose retailers that use eco-friendly packaging and consider the environmental impact of shipping.
- Donate or recycle unwanted items
If you find Black Friday shopping results in items you no longer need or want, don’t toss them. Donate usable items to local charities or recycle them properly. This minimizes waste and supports people in need.
- Reuse packaging and shipping items
Whether you buy products online or in person, you will likely accumulate packaging that can either be repurposed or recycled. Consider using it to wrap or ship presents. If you can’t repurpose the packaging, most states will recycle paper, plastic, glass, cans, foil and other packaging.
- Food – 22 percent
- Textiles – 7.6 percent
- Plastics – 18.9 percent
- Paper and paperboard – 13.3 percent
- Metal – 9.5 percent
Black Friday doesn’t have to mean wasteful consumerism. By shopping sustainably, you can enjoy the savings and contribute to a healthier planet. Remember, making eco-conscious choices during Black Friday and throughout the year is a positive step toward a more sustainable and responsible lifestyle.