Black Friday... The initially American tradition resulting in millions of people, spending millions of dollars on millions of items with very little to no regard for how that kind of explosive consumption impacts our planet.
For some people with limited purchasing power Black Friday might be a good opportunity to purchase necessities that are otherwise not affordable. For others with mighty purchasing power and more than enough material things... Black Friday is just an opportunity to buy impulsively and participate in a consumption oriented society, which has a devastating impact on the environment.
Here's some points of impact on our environment as a result of mass consumption:
1) How you buy it...
Spending amplifies every year with a massive 20% sales increase forecast for 2018's Black Friday, from 2017. And this year... more than 57% of all sales will come from e-commerce (online stores). How environmentally friendly a purchase is will come down to how it is packaged and shipped.
Packaging is a really scary aspect of online shopping because once we unravel a purchase, the plastic wrap that it came in, the postage bag and the tagging is very quickly converted to trash which will either end up in landfill, the ocean or the atmosphere. (Sadly the product will eventually end up there too, the turn around time between purchase and disposal is all we can really control at this stage).
In terms of packaging, we recommend Compost Packs by The Better Packaging Co. They are 100% compostable postage satchels which means they will simply biodegrade back into the Earth in a much faster fashion than standard plastic which takes too long to biodegrade, eventually ending up in our waterways poisoning our water supplies and suffocating sea life. Compostable packaging is not few nor far between nowadays the only limit to adopting sustainable solutions for all product distributors/brands is themselves.
2) The product itself...
Some of the most common purchases during Black Friday to Cyber Monday include: Electronics, (without categorising specifically) Plastic and (our arch enemy) Fast Fashion.
Electronics are evolutionary meaning that in a consumer society (which we are in) they're in a constant state of depreciation because a new and improved version is always on the way. It's probably not at the forefront of our minds what impact a camera, mobile phone or computer (for example), might have on the environment when disposed of for a replacement.
When electronics are thrown into landfills, they have the potential to leak toxic minerals like mercury and lead into the earth, waterways and atmosphere... This poses a major threat to the health of all living organisms. For example "children face a disproportionate risk of developing neurological and cognitive disorders if exposed to the chemicals found in electronic waste"(National Geographic, 2017).
Uggghhh plastic... it's everywhere... it's used to make all things from toys to homewares and literally billions of kilograms of plastic are produced every year and only 9% of that massive plastic production is ever recycled... That leaves 91% of plastic non recycled... and statistically that non-recycled volume of plastic primarily winds up in the ocean choking wildlife and smothering reef.
Last but not least... Fast Fashion... the complete opposite of everything we stand for. It means mass production at the expense of everyone and everything along the production line besides the brands that are capitalising from it and the consumers that don't quite understand it... yet. To shock a few people we've recently read the results of a study by The Ellen Macarthur Foundation that a truckload of textiles is wasted every second (yes, every single second). In addition to the mass waste that fast fashion produces, the extensive use of water, seeping of toxic dyes, extreme clog of landfill, underpaying of garment workers, overuse of (Earth's material enemy) Plastic and the list goes on...
So days/weekends like Black Friday to Cyber Monday really only amplify the problem. Some may argue that discounted prices don't impact consumerism but the truth is, they do. A person is 64% more likely to purchase a product if they are under the impression that it's on sale. So there will be hundreds of thousands of purchases over the weekend that occur unnecessarily and that will result in a very fast turnaround time between purchase and disposal which sucks for our planet.
So that's why at Earth First we choose not participate. Yes we want our customers to feel appreciated because they most certainly are, but we not only appreciate our customers based on the fact that they buy from us, we appreciate our customers because they're more interested in buying into the future of our planet than buying things that they don't need or will never need just for the sake of buying.
I've been told a number of times that there is no point combatting days like Black Friday because "you are only swimming against the tide" but this is the frame of mind that has lead our planet to it's current state of decline and so we'll be over here doing what we do best and not getting sucked in to the destructive ways of an industry that requires CHANGE before it completely takes out our planet.
Just be mindful during this crazy shopping frenzy weekend. If you don't need it... Don't buy it.