Hello everybody! I thought I would address is issues surrounding Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Even though Danes do no celebrate Thanksgiving, more and more stores are welcoming consumer-holidays and thus, in a few years Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become integrated parts of Danish consumerism. This post is going to show you some of the pros and cons of these holidays and how to manage and use them sustainably.
Overconsumption: one of the biggest concerns I have about both Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the fact that they exist in order to make up buy more than we need. The problem is not that we wait until the vacuum cleaner we want goes on sale, the problem is when we choose to buy 3 because they are cheap. Companies set a mood that is fast-paced around the holidays, the music is fast in the stores, we know that there will only be a few items left and therefore we are let to act faster and more spontaneous than we normally would. This leads to overconsumption, this notion is especially bad in the clothing industry.
The bottom line is: partake in neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday unless you actually need something, and don’t fall victim to impulse buys.
Inventory: Many stores promote their great and amazing sales all through October, but when Black Friday comes they order less than they now they need, according to Business Insider. This will result in the discounted items being sold out fast, but the stores do not lose profit. The costumers who are already there will often buy an item with a smaller discount or no discount at all because they are already there.
Cheap electronics: the fasted growing category of waste in 2019 was e-waste. With planned obsolescence (devices with build-in death dates) and new models coming out every 6 months we discard perfectly good electronics like never before. Black Friday’s biggest market is also for electronics, but don’t buy into the hype of new models of televisions or cell phones if the one you have is in perfect condition. It’s often still cheaper to buy a second-hand cell phone that 1-2 years old than buying the brand new version on sale. So think about how old your phone is, if it still works, and how you plan of discarding it before replacing it.
Fast fashion: On average a US resident throws away 70 pounds of clothes each year. Most clothes could be recycled, but it often ends in landfills where it cannot decompose. The fast fashion industry has made it near impossible to repair the clothes you buy, and with the prices of the items being so low it does not seem desirable to repair a 3$ t-shirt. The problem with fast fashion is the sheer volume of the industry. Companies like H&M have introduced 52 different seasons as a way to sell us more clothes. Some people have so low incomes that their only option is buying fast fashion, but this group is not the problem when it comes to the environmental impact of this industry, rather it is the massive middle class who can afford to pay for ethically and sustainably made clothing but choose not it. We want quantity over quality and that’s the big problem. So don’t go crazy with your fashion purchases on Black Friday, but consider how much you’re going to use the item, is it versatile? It is necessary? And can you repair it if it breaks?
The problem with Cyber Monday: Black Friday can be stressful and chaotic, going to the stores with hundreds of other people to stand in line and carry all your purchases back home? It’s a hard pass, especially when you can just buy online instead. But there are a few issues you should be aware of before shopping online sales. When you return an item you bought online, in many cases the item will be thrown away. Again this is especially bad in fast fashion because by the time the item can be redistributed, it’s already outdated. So even online the bottom line is still: don’t buy anything you don’t need. If you are worried about the size and have the option of trying it on a store first, then definitely do that. Another issue with Cyber Monday is infrastructure. Of course, there is a considerable carbon footprint from transporting parcels all around the world, but employees in postal services are overworked doing November because of these consumer holidays. When consumers buy products like televisions online there are people who have carry, sort and manage the parcel and doing Cyber Monday, the amount of heavy parcel like that is 5-10 times as large as a normal day. So if you have the option to do to the store yourself, you will save the transportation of the item and the postal workers’ backs, win-win.
So how can you shop sustainably on consumer holidays? These holidays are made to make you overspend, but you have the control not to. If you wait for the holiday sales to buy something that you otherwise could not afford, and if you consider how much use you will get out of the problem before buying it, then you’re not part of the problem, because you are consuming consciously. Many eco shops and sustainable companies are also starting to take a liking to the Black Friday concept, and although it seems hypocritical, you can use this holiday to finally buy that safety razor you couldn’t afford or that menstrual cup, or those slow fashion briefs. Just because the many companies that partake in Black Friday wants you to buy garbage, does not mean you have to.