Last week was, just as the last years before, overshadowed by sales, discounts and a lot of advertisement. After Thanksgiving, people rushed to the stores, or this year more likely onto their internet browsers, to participate in the Black Friday or cyber week.
As much as buying an item of a reduced price up to 70% sounds appealing, the impacts of “one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year”, left its mark on the environment and once again reflects on our consumerist society.
What is the story behind Black Friday?
Originated in the US, Black Friday started with the beginning of the holiday season after Thanksgiving in the late 19th century. The reason behind the name ‘Black Friday’ comes from the fact that it was the day when retailers saw positive earnings and profits in the black.
It describes the moment accounts use black to signify profit when recording each day’s book entries, and red was used to indicate a loss. Retail and consumer spending that day drive almost 70% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Still today, Black Friday is a big success for retailers, especially for giants like Amazon. This year, 65% of spendings during this Black Friday is predicted to be via Amazon, having already kicked off the 10-week mega-peak, it was set to dominate this year’s sales quarter.
Of course, customers also profit from Black Friday in one way or another. But the impact of this shopping day is tremendous and something to consider every year and especially this year.
What is the impact of Black Friday?
Online shopping has the same, if not more detrimental impact, than shopping in a physical store. Black Friday and things like Cyber Monday, cause air pollution through the complex logistics and supply chain network. Just think about all the next day or express deliveries, causing amounts of CO2 emissions for transportation. In 2017 it was estimated that every 93 seconds, a diesel truck left an Amazon fulfilment centre.
This is also fueled by the customer's behaviour. While 85% of UK consumers plan to shop for Black Friday deals, just one in 10 said they considered the impact of their deliveries on the environment.
In the UK this year’s CO2 emissions from online shopping was estimated to be around 429,000 metric tons. To put this in perspective, this would be equivalent to:
435 return flights from London to New York
The same weight as 61,308 elephants.
Besides this, Black Friday creates an enormous amount of waste, whether textile waste or electronic waste, up to packaging waste.
Alone in the UK, 31,4% of customers were expected to return at least one or more items of fashion on 2017’s Black Friday. Many retailers end up throwing away over 25% of their returns, which could “end up being over 5 billion pounds of goods that end up in landfills a year from returns” says Tobin Moore (CEO and co-founder of Optoro) in an article by CNBC.
This year many fashion companies were suffering from the consequences of Covid-19, resulting in an inventory crisis. This year you would even be able to see fast fashion brands as pretty little thing go up to 99%, meaning some items were sold for 5-20 Cents. This is not only decreasing the value of the garment itself but also the value of the work put into making the garment. Especially this year the conditions of garment workers whether in Bangladesh or even the UK have been more than ever visible with Covid 19 affecting each step of the supply chain.
The reductions caused a backlash on social media and among environmental experts. Experts also expressed concerns about the hidden environmental costs of overproduction and the use of natural resources that contributes substantially to environmental degradation. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated that the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year with the vast majority (85%) of all textiles in to end-up in landfills.
What can you do as a consumer?
Of course, Black Friday can benefit consumers a lot. Especially in terms of affordability. However, not all purchases come from a place of need. 29% of UK shoppers and 53% of French consumers are expected to spend more on clothes during Black Friday. So, when you, as a consumer, have the chance and the financial possibility to use your shopping choice as a statement, reducing or even not shopping during Black Friday can be very powerful in aiding the negative impact of this day.
How does Kleiderly contribute?
At Kleiderly, we see the value in clothing, as well as the environmental impacts of throwing a garment away. Black Friday can cause a huge amount of clothing waste, which ends up in landfill or incinerators.
With our technology, we want to prevent the clothes from landfill and recycle them into a sustainable plastics alternative, solving two environmental problems at once.