The Environmental Impact of Black Friday Shopping
November 24, 2016
Green Business Watch
Because the holidays are a time of excess, they have a major environmental impact. One 1999 study concluded that Black Friday was 50 times worse in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than Cyber Monday. The best way to minimize your environmental impact is simply to consume less: that's a gift your planet can live with.
The Environmental Impact of Black Friday
Green Business Watch
(November 23, 2016) -- Black Friday has come around again and the holiday shopping season is kicking off. We all know that the holidays are a time of excess. The level of packaging and waste over Christmas can be horrendous. There is also massive environmental impact just in the sheer activity level of Black Friday.
We had to dig back to find figures on this to a 1999 study by MindClick SGM and GigaOm. They concluded that Black Friday was 50 times worse in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than Cyber Monday. That is weighted by the fact that retail sales are still much greater than online sales volumes. In general, the study found that purchasing online was 15 times better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than purchasing retail. That still sounds like a pretty massive difference.
Thanksgiving weekend sales show no signs of slowing over the years and although more and more online shopping is taking place, retail sales continue to grow.
National Retail Federation figures for Thanksgiving weekend sales:
Year Total Retail Spending
2011 $52.5 billion
2010 $45.0 billion
2009 $41.2 billion
2008 $41.0 billion
Online shopping is not confined to Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving Day itself is growing as a major day in the calendar of online shopping. As shoppers log on to browse and research their purchases before Friday, they are increasingly finding offers and attractive shipping that are compelling.
The holiday season, from yesterday through Christmas, traditionally sees a massive increase in waste, gas usage as we travel and electricity usage as our homes are lit and full.
The economic activity of Black Friday is bound to have an environmental impact. We could stop it by not buying anything but that's not going to be good for the economy or Christmas.
We have to buy stuff at some stage. We have to have fun and family also.
What we can do is reduce waste, minimize packaging where we can, purchase online and examine our shipping options and maybe buy gifts that are more eco-friendly.
An Environmentally Friendly Black Friday
Black Friday has long been considered a tradition marking the start of the holiday shopping season, inspiring consumers to fill their carts and to take advantage of low prices on the items on everyone's wish lists.
The anticipation builds leading up to the big day, as deals are revealed through TV commercials, print ads and social media, including savings on big-ticket items. Despite the excitement of holiday bargain shopping, it is still important to keep in mind the environmental impact your purchases can have.
Environmentally friendly behavior starts with buying decisions. Consider shopping online; this increasingly popular option is considered by many to be a greener shopping alternative as goods are often stored in and shipped from one central location, reducing energy consumption. Online shopping can also reduce harmful emissions caused by consumers driving from one Black Friday sale to another.
People who can't find what they're looking for online, or who prefer doing hands-on shopping in a store, can still be eco-friendly by carpooling with friends. Public transportation might be another option for going green during Black Friday if you are only planning to buy a few things that can easily be carried.
When driving, consumers should take the usual precautions to reduce fuel consumption, such as driving the speed limit, idling less often, and avoiding aggressive behavior.
Shoppers can also be thoughtful and make smart, green decisions about the items that they buy. Look for electronics or small appliances that use less energy by checking for Energy Star labels, which indicate that they are more energy efficient than the government standards.
You can also reduce waste by using rechargeable batteries in the electronics you purchase. When buying toys look for those made from long-lasting, natural, toxin-free materials. While it isn't always a feasible option, consider toys that can be recycled. Shoppers can create a greener shopping experience on Black Friday by choosing items with less packaging and bringing a reusable shopping bag from home.
Check out these links for more helpful hints on eco-friendly shopping:
* Is Online Shopping Really More Eco-Friendly?: See how online shopping compares to traditional in-store shopping.
* Driving More Efficiently: Learn ways to drive more efficiently by reading this guide from the US Department of Energy. Each tip includes the fuel economy benefit and equivalent gasoline savings.
* Green Machines: Eco-Friendly Electronics: This how-to shopping guide provides guidance for choosing environmentally friendly electronics.
* Ten Ways to Green Your Holidays: Discover ten tips on how to have a greener holiday, including how to shop for green gifts and what to avoid and look for when buying other items.
* 12 Tips for Choosing Safe and Eco-Friendly Toys: Before taking advantage of Black Friday deals on toys, review these 12 tips on how to choose eco-friendly, safe gifts for kids.
* Recycling Made Easy: See what types of electronics, appliances, and other items you can recycle, and check out links to additional recycling resources.
* Go Green on Black Friday: Visit the EPA's Our Planet, Our Home blog for advice on how to make green choices while Black Friday shopping. Advice on toys, batteries and electronics is included.
* Being Green on Black Friday: Get Black Friday green tips such as shopping online, using public transit and buying products more environmentally friendly.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.