Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Happy holiday season. With the holiday season, like I’ve been saying, comes waste. As Americans, we produce 25% more waste from October to December every year. Black Friday is a big contributor with an estimated 15+ billion pieces of mail and 900+ million packages being delivered between Thanksgiving and New Years. Most of these will be purchased during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
If you’re not familiar with this wasteful trend, it’s the weekend following Thanksgiving, you know the holiday in the US where we gather with family to celebrate what we are thankful for, only to be followed by being greedy and buying more and more stuff. Sorry, I just hate Black Friday, always have. The trend has spread throughout the world and consumerism has gone up with it. Mid-October also brings up “Prime Days” which is two days of Amazon Prime Day deals. I jokingly saw someone on Facebook ask “what are you all getting for Prime day so I can see what I ‘need’” which is just sad. We need to rethink what we need and what we just want.
This video is going to be about waste, yes, but also about minimalism. I talk about minimalism a bit on this channel, but it’s not quite the main key, though it definitely is the main theme of the holiday season. In the end, I’ll go over some mindful shopping habits I use to keep myself off the consumerism path and on my own minimalism journey.
Discounts can be good though
Privileged people like myself look at discounts as a chance to score wants at a lower cost. This season, though, can serve as a time for people to buy items they truly need at an actually affordable cost. I want to recognize that. I am not saying Black Friday is bad, but most of our habits are ill-intended. Those who might need a new book bag or a new water bottle for example would be able to afford one during Black Friday.
But, those of us who make more than enough money spending it on Black Friday just perpetuate our consumption-oriented ways which obviously have adverse effects on the planet.
Black Friday’s Impact on the Planet
Obviously, all shipping comes with some sort of environmental cost, but depending on which method you chose depends on how much impact that has on the planet. The quicker the shipping, the more diesel-consuming trucks that have to be used. If you chose slower shipping, it is more likely that Amazon (or whoever) can use more efficient shipping methods like trains.
What you’re buying
Tech is easily one of the most commonly purchased items during Black Friday. As we talked about in this video, e-waste has become a real problem. It takes insane amounts of energy to create electronics, but so little of them are recycled properly and precious materials are literally wasted. Not only this, but e-waste has the potential to leach toxins into the ground and water, and when we ship them overseas to be recycled that has a terrible effect on the people and their air quality.
Surely if you’re not new to the sustainably living movement you know how bad fast fashion is for the planet and its people. If not, you can watch this video here. When fashion is produced rapidly from materials that required a lot of carbon emissions with excess discarded materials and microfibers coming off the fabrics after use, there is no way that is good for the planet.
Plastic is everywhere and chances are you’re probably going to buy meaningless plastic knickknacks just because it’s on sale this Black Friday. If you’re like to learn more about the impact of plastic on the planet and why so much ends up in the ocean, check out this video here. Not only this, but excess toys are being purchased as Christmas gifts that might be used for a short time but will ultimately end up in the landfill and will sit there for thousands if not millions of years.
How to reduce your impact
First, shop less which is pretty obvious. But, as I said, it’s not always possible.
But, if you must shop during Black Friday, see if you can opt for bundled shipping. Instead of getting 10 separate packages, get one.
And instead, purchase from more eco-friendly companies that use eco-friendly materials, upcycled materials, and so forth.
See what you can just find second hand first throughout the year. Ask friends and family and neighbors. Check local thrift stores and even your own home first.
Amazon (and other similar companies) have enough money. Especially this year, small businesses are struggling to support them if you can. The best part, there is likely small business in your own town, the next town over, and your own state. This means fewer emissions when it comes to shipping. Not to mention. Small businesses typically care more about paying their employees a fair wage, using more environmentally friendly materials, environmentally friendly practices, and so forth.
Small businesses create local jobs, support the local economy, and personally, it feels better knowing I am helping a family directly than helping a CEO make another billion dollars. Yes, supporting Amazon is supporting jobs, but Jeff Bezos isn’t doing his part to help the planet and isn’t even paying his employees a fair wage.
A personal reason I like shopping small is that I get unique items. Instead of buying fast fashion and other drop-shipped items that are mass-produced, I can acquire something one of a kind. I like knowing that love was put into an item and it was made with care and passion and not greed.
This holiday season, I hope you spread love not only when you gather and give gifts but when you think about ordering gifts. Support companies that care about the Earth and their people. Support companies that are doing good in the world and spreading kindness and not just trying to make another billion dollars. Black Friday comes with a cost, not just to our wallet, but to the planet and to the people who make our products and I hope you take that into consideration this year.