It’s that time of year again in the United States… Thanksgiving! … and with Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. Historically, people around the US would wait in long lines to get their hands on hugely discounted products; and even though some traditions like waiting in line may not be possible in some areas, people will still be able to get hot ticket items online.
Personally, I’ve waited in these lines, battling the bitter northeastern cold in the hopes of getting discounted electronics like TVs and laptops. One year, my siblings and I were first in line at Walmart - able to get all of the top ticketed items on our list! But before this year, I’ve never thought of the environmental impact that Black Friday has on our planet...
Many could be wondering - how can Black Friday affect the environment, people are just shopping? According to the ‘Make Friday Green Again’ alliance, one of the largest causes of the problem is overproduction, brands making too much of a good than is demanded as necessary by consumers. However, what is necessary is ultimately up for some debate - do we really need another sweater when our drawers are already full at home? Let’s face it, it’s hard to resist a great deal or multiple deals when you are seeing them in the weeks that lead up to Black Friday.
According to the Environment Journal, fast fashion; inexpensive clothes, quickly produced in response to the latest trends has accelerated overproduction on a level we’ve never seen before. Remember how fashion shows in the fall showcased items for the following spring? Social media has changed the fashion game with images and live streams from shows, exposing designs months before they are available to purchase, whilst Fast Fashion brands rush in to create and deliver these trends to the public.
Taking out the environmental costs, fast fashion benefits the consumer by allowing them to buy the trendiest fashion items faster, at a lower cost. The main loser in this equation is the planet. According to GlobalEdge, the fast fashion industry contributes to climate change, pesticide pollution and enormous amounts of waste.
Textile production emissions contribute 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year - that’s more than all international flights and shipping combined. The use of oil-based synthetic fabrics is projected to take up 26% of the global carbon budget by 2050. Cotton? It takes between 10,000 - 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton clothing (don’t forget the pesticides too). More research on this here.
You may be thinking ‘I don't really purchase clothes on Black Friday, I usually go for electronics’... Well, our consumerist behaviour doesn’t end with clothes, it extends to every sector we purchase in. One example is with the iPhone. As an iPhone user myself, I find that I have to hold myself back when trying to decide if I need a new phone or if I just want a new phone. ‘The volume of electronic waste is expected to grow by 33 percent in the next four years, when it will weigh the equivalent of eight of the great Egyptian pyramids’ reports the United Nations University.
OK... so you get the picture. But how about returning items? Maybe you buy new electronics on Black Friday and end up returning them? Many electronics, such as tablets, laptops and TVs, are not easy to recondition and get back into stock once they have been returned. Due to this, retailers will have stock that they are not able to resell and then these products will end up in landfills.
There are plenty of us who have been waiting for Black Friday to obtain a discount on a much needed product after a tough year… but for those of us browsing for more t-shirts to fill packed closets, here’s a great little guide to help you decide if you really need this item. It might be cheap to you, but chances are, it’s costing our planet.
So, are you going to participate in Black Friday this year? Any questions or comments, feel free to join the discussions via our Instagram channel @thecaptureapp or say hi to the team via email at email@example.com