Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with consumerism and environmental degradation. It’s easy to see the harm in these shopping frenzies as people trample over one another so they can get a blender for 50% off. Or the lines that start at 2:00 AM so they can buy the newest and fanciest tech gadget or fur coat.
Sustainable shopping might not be as easy as one-click online shopping, but it’s more rewarding, conscious, and environmentally friendly. And if we want there to be a planet for future generations, we need to think about the earth even on the biggest shopping days of the year.
What Is Black Friday?
Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days in the world, marketed by companies to boost sales. Most items are heavily discounted and sales go on as long as supplies last (hence the mad dash as soon as the doors open.)
When did Black Friday start in Canada?
Black Friday has been popular in the U.S. since the 1950s, when Philadelphia police referred to the day after Thanksgiving as hundreds of thousands of people squeezed into the city, forcing police to work long hours.
Black Friday started getting popular in Canada a little over 10 years ago when the Canadian dollar was equal to the U.S. dollar, and retailers saw Canadians crossing the border to buy from U.S. retailers with massive discounts.
Why is Black Friday bad for the environment?
Black Friday is bad for the environment because of the metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions caused by deliveries, driving (by shoppers, deliverers, and companies), drop shipping, you name it. Not to mention the amount of waste generated, which will end up in landfills, the ocean, and likely in your local environment.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It’s just like Black Friday, but it’s strictly for online shopping, which has obviously gotten more popular since the pandemic.
When did Cyber Monday start in Canada?
It’s likely Cyber Monday started around the same time as Black Friday in Canada. Shoppers looking for a deal outside of Boxing Day flocked to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to find the lowest prices for clothes, electronics, and any kind of knick-knack you can imagine.
Historically, before smartphones hit the scene, American shoppers used the first workday after the long Thanksgiving to check their favorite stores’ websites to see what deals they may have missed in person. It was coined “Cyber Monday” and while the first-ever Cyber Monday was a total flop, it increasingly gained popularity, right up with Black Friday.
Why is Cyber Monday bad for the environment?
Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is also bad for the environment. According to The Conversation, “Rather than a large amount of products being sent to one store, shipments become smaller and more fragmented.” This means single items are dropped off at houses. Retailers need to hire more drivers to deliver the same amount of goods to homes while packaging also becomes trickier.
They also say that “The carbon emissions we create from buying a simple t-shirt online can be four times higher than buying it in a physical store.”
So, how do you practice sustainable shopping for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Keep reading and we’ll give you seven tips to take with you into the holidays to be a more conscientious yet savvy shopper.
1. Make A List Of What You Really Need Before Black Friday/Cyber Monday
Do you really need that top or do you want it because your favorite retailer just marked it down for Black Friday?
We get it. It’s hard to resist major discounts and smart salespeople. The external pressure to buy a ton of stuff in the moment is hard to ignore. But there’s a way to get out in front of that: making a list.
Sit down and create a list of what you need to buy: for yourself and for your loved ones. Ideally, do this long before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This will give you a clear head and you won’t be distracted by glittery “70% off” signs.
Once you’ve created a list, stick to it. Easier said than done, but look at the big picture: this helps you avoid redundant buys or regretting a purchase a month after, only to end up never using it or worse, throwing it away (hello 2-year-old scarf we never wore).
2. Research Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Look up prices
Many Black Friday deals are the same price or cheaper in the six months leading up to these sale days. Start looking up what you want now so you’ll know what that product typically costs when it’s marked down. You may end up learning that it’s not actually cheaper and therefore, you can skip shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Find Retailers Offering Pick-Up Options
Because you now know that online shopping can actually do more harm to the environment than going to a physical location, see if a retailer near you offers a pick-up option. You can order online and pick your goods up when you’re in that area next. This helps reduce extra trips and emissions.
3. Shop Local and Bring Recyclable Bags In Case The Store Doesn't Offer Them
It’s not always feasible to shop locally and it’s understandable if you have to go online to get something special. If you do shop online, try to merge all of your online orders into one store to reduce packaging and delivery trips.
When you can shop for Black Friday deals locally, it makes your shopping more eco-friendly. When shopping locally, consider picking stores near each other to limit the air pollution from your car. You can even play with using public transit, riding your bike, or walking to stores.
4. Read The Ingredients/Materials Of Products
To make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping sustainable, read the ingredients and materials of what you’re buying. Consider how these products are made and if they’re environmentally friendly.
Not only do you want to protect the earth, but what you eat, drink, use, and wear can affect your health. That’s why we only use the best material when creating our products—for the environment’s health and yours.
5. Buy From Companies Who Give Back To The Environment
More and more companies like Noize are working on sourcing natural materials and manufacturing products in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. You can support them by buying their products and avoiding companies that continue to harm the environment.
Make this part of your research. When you come up with your list of things to buy, look up the companies to see their environmental practices (if they have any). Then pledge to only shop from the ones who are working to save the planet.
6. Don’t Do Fast Fashion
Companies to avoid are the ones who produce fast fashion. No one’s perfect and sometimes, we end up with something that is very unsustainable. But by avoiding fast fashion, you are seriously helping reduce waste.
As you look for companies to buy from, see what materials they use (number 4), and note the ones who are using natural materials (real wood instead of pressboard, for example). Sustainable brands will cost you more, but it’s because they’re producing these goods ethically.
In the long run, buying high-quality materials means items will last longer (and you’ll probably save more money in the long run). Not to mention, if you’re giving your loved one something that’s sustainable and ethically made, it’ll mean more to them too.
If you do really need something, you can’t find it in a second-hand store, and it’s available, don’t feel guilty about buying it. If it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime sales, give it a day or two and think about if you really need it or if it’s an impulse buy. Resist the urge to give into the societal pressure to consume and shop sustainably this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.