Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Black Friday is often thought of as damaging to the environment - and that assumption is not wrong.
A lot of items end up in the landfill following a big Black Friday blowout, among these electronics, clothes and plastic packaging are the worst culprits.
Not to mention to greenhouse gasses generated during the manufacturing process of these hot-topic buys.
So, in light of this holiday being unavoidable, and our understanding that folks want to get the most bang for their buck, our question is: how can you, as an eco-friendly consumer, make the most of Black Friday deals?
Step One: Consider What You Have To Begin With
Unless you’re a total shopaholic - no judgment - you’re probably aware of the difference between a need and a want. With a quick inventory
In case you’re unsure at the time of buying, ask these questions before clicking that sexy Buy button:
Do you have something you can use now instead of buying something new?
Do you have an item in your home that can sub for something that you want? What are the costs (both time and money)
Can I make something instead of buying it?
If you’re even the slightest bit crafty, then a quick search through Pinterest will give you hundreds of options to upcycle and reuse an existing item in your home for that Wish List item you’ve been eyeing.
Step Two: Know What You’re Buying and Who You’re Buying It From
If I absolutely need this new item, which company offers the most high-quality product that will last me the longest time?
By knowing in advance the life cycle of a given product, you can anticipate how many uses you’ll get out of it before it inevitably dies/stops being useful. The longer the life expectancy of an item, the more eco-friendly it is over time.
Things to look for to measure product quality:
Warranty on the product:
The longer the warranty period, the longer the product is expected to last.
Return Policy of the company
If the company is flexible on returns and willing to offer return labels (on their dime) they tend to stand behind the quality of their product - a good sign!
Sometimes returning customers will edit a review they’d left following their initial buy. If the customer mentions that the product died after a few months or so, this product is perhaps not your best bet.
Alternatively, if the customer seems just as happy with their buy (or happier) than when they first purchased, that’s a dang good sign!
If I absolutely need this new item, which company is the most dedicated to green solutions?
Does the company I’m looking at ship using recyclable/compostable packaging? Do they follow green processes during manufacturing and shipping?
Here’s an email template that you can copy-paste into a Contact Us form asking about a company’s commitment to sustainability. Ask a few companies the same question, and then compare answers.
Dear [Company Name],
I’m writing to inquire about your commitment to sustainability and green processes.
I’m considering buying [product] , but before I make the decision, I would like to know more about the brand which I’ve decided to back.
What is your company doing to minimize their carbon footprint?
What sort of packaging do you use when shipping products to customers?
Are you taking any steps to eliminate waste during the manufacturing, transportation and distribution process?
I look forward to hearing your input on the above, and any other information you can give me on the subject of [Company’s] eco-awareness.
I hope to become a [Company] customer in the future, based on your answer to the above.
Remember, no answer is the worst answer. Do not buy from a company that doesn’t even bother to respond to a reasonable question.
Step Three: Determine How Often You Will Use This Product In Your Day-To-Day Life
Sometimes, a big flashy sale can distract us from our actual needs in life. Again, no judgment. This is what companies want, and they pay thousands of dollars every year just to bamboozle you. That’s business, baby.
But think about it. Really consider the use of the product in your life from the time of purchase to the time when you will inevitably have to put that product to bed.
Will I use this product every day? Every week? Once a month? Will your use of the product be often enough to warrant the generation of emissions during the manufacturing/shipping process?
If this is an item that you will use a handful of times before it becomes obsolete, then this is not where your money should be spent.
Step Four: Does This Product Make It Easier for You To Live An Eco-Friendly Life?
This can be a tricky one, only because a product’s value as an “eco-aid” will depend on your habits and the specs or use of the product.
That being said, there are certain things that you can look for in a product to determine whether or not it is usable for “eco” purposes.
Does the product minimize or eliminate waste?
Is this an item that removes an element of your household waste stream?
For example, a washable, reusable bamboo cloth can eliminate the use of disposable paper towels.
Is this a gadget that uses less energy than one you currently own?
Does this product have multiple uses which will eliminate the need for multiple products?
Does this product use less toxic chemicals than others?
Is this a product that eliminates food waste, like an electric composter?
Step Five: Reuse and Replace Responsibly
If you are committed to purchasing something on Black Friday, then you’re also considering how this new item will fit into your home and your life.
Often, folks use Black Friday to replace old items in their home that have either stopped working or no longer work the way people need them to. If this is the case, then the “out with the old, in with the new” process should be as eco-friendly as possible to eliminate needless waste.
Is there an electronics recycling depot near you and can this item be recycled? If so, make it a priority to drop off your throwaway item there rather than in your trash. E-waste is one of the fastest-growing forms of waste in landfills, and some of the most toxic.
Thrift Store Donation
Is this a working product? Would someone else find use in it? If so, donate! Share the love and pass it on!
Post it on Facebook - does anyone you know want what you’ve got? Offer it to your friends - you never know when your trash might become someone’s treasure!
Sell It On Online
Why give something away when you could sell it? Mooooahahaha!
If you’re preparing to change out your wardrobe, you might want to think about having a Pickup-Potluck Party. Have all your friends bring all their old clothes and accessories in (non-plastic) bags.
At the count of three, have everyone dump their clothes on a clean surface so that it tumbles out in a big colorful pile. Let the thrifting commence! If there’s anything that no one wants, donate it!
A Pickup-Potluck is a fun way to get rid of your old clothes to make way for new ones, while getting together with your loved ones for a good cause.
Like we mentioned above, there is no limit to the types of crafts available to the nifty-thrifty shopper.
Go onto your favourite search engine, or Pinterest, type in the item you’re looking to throw away and then type “craft” or “DIY”. You’ll be overwhelmed with the number of options out there!
We all love a good deal. There’s no shame in that. Just remember that our shopping habits directly affect our environment and the companies from which we purchase.
Support ethical, “eco” brands. Buy consciously and with a conscience. Consider the ways in which you can minimize your impact. If you’re going to replace, then try to reduce, reuse, and recycle. You, as a shopper and an eco-consumer, control the outcome of this Black Friday.