Black Friday 2022: How do sales affect the environment?

the main points
  • Australians are expected to spend an estimated $6.2 billion on Black Friday sales from November 24-28.
  • The annual sale period, which started in the United States, has become a major global shopping event.
  • While shoppers book deals, advocates warn of the costs to the planet and fast-wearing workers.
Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday sales are two of the But as bargain shoppers snap up, advocates warn the sales harm the environment and the workers who make consumer goods.
For many shoppers, the sales provide an opportunity to buy gifts before the holiday sales, but critics say they promote overconsumption

So while smart shoppers save money, how do you pay the environment and workers?

What is Black Friday, and how big is it in Australia?

Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday sales have begun in the United States, and take place the day after Thanksgiving over a four-day period.
Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, leaving many Americans with a free day on the Friday before the weekend.
Retailers took this opportunity to turn this into a sales day to lock in profits leading up to the holiday period.
Cops coined the name Black Friday in Philadelphia in the 1950s and 1960s because of problems like traffic jams, shoplifting, and even violence caused by the large crowds from the suburbs flooding the city to shop during the weekend.
It was later popularized by retailers in the 1980s noting that it helped shift balance sheets from deficit (red) to profit (black).
The name Cyber ​​Monday was created by retailers in the mid-2000s, and is designed to encourage shoppers to buy online.
Over the years, the event has spread all over the world, getting bigger and bigger every year.
Last year, Australians spent more than $8 billion over the four days from Black Friday to Cyber ​​Monday.

This year, Black Friday falls on November 25th and Cyber ​​Monday on November 28th.

In 2022, research from the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan predicts that Australians will spend an estimated $6.2 billion over the same period.

This represents an increase of $200 million over the 2021 figures and equates to $1,076,389 per minute.

How do Black Friday sales harm the environment?

Jeff Angel, director of the Boomerang Alliance, which works to reduce waste, says many items typically purchased during Black Friday sales end up in landfill, along with the plastic that’s usually packaged.
“We’ve found a lot of products — like fast fashion, games that have very limited interests and lives, and other types of short-lived consumer products — that unfortunately when thrown into a landfill is a huge waste of resources and leads to pollution.”

“The fact that they are produced at such a high rate means a higher energy footprint and therefore a carbon footprint, and then, of course, the excess packaging that is not recycled in Australia at all.”

Black Friday has become a major shopping event all over the world. source: aap

Angel warns that those who try to do the right thing by putting unwanted items or packaging in recycling bins may also be inadvertently contributing to an increase in littering and landfilling.

He told SBS News Australia does not have a strong recycling rate, particularly follow-up
“All of these products come in excessive amounts of packaging, in the case of plastic packaging only about 13 percent is recycled… We have a target of 70 percent by 2025 and we’re not getting close to that and if we don’t recycle then we go to landfill.” Waste “.

“We don’t have a good recycling rate for packaging in Australia, so you can’t use that to relieve some guilt about buying something and then throwing it away.”

What about the people who make these products?

Environmental issues aren’t the only factor of concern when it comes to Black Friday sales.

Humanitarian organizations warn that excessive consumption and production are also hurting fast-wear workers, many of whom do not get a living wage.

Lynn Morgen, chief executive of poverty-fighting charity Oxfam Australia, says the Black Friday cycle and increased demand could be detrimental to garment workers.
“The vast majority of garment workers are not paid enough,” she said.
“There is no question that the fast fashion and business practices that accompany that cycle are not necessarily good for workers.”
Morgen said the figures show revenue in the apparel industry rose 18 percent over two years, with profits of $1 billion last year.
“The industry can adequately pay women,” she said.

“We need consumers to move beyond price as the only measure and understand that what lies behind that price could mean a lot of things that if they knew, they wouldn’t be comfortable with it.”

How can Black Friday be improved?

In addition to consumers who shop consciously, advocates say the onus is also on governments and companies to improve business practices and recycling programs.
Anita Sarkar is the CEO and co-founder of Hero Packaging, which sells sustainable and compostable packaging to e-commerce companies.
She says that while many consumers and businesses are becoming more aware of ethical practices, shopping events like Black Friday remain harmful.
“Sales periods trump anything related to sustainability, so companies are shipping merchandise the best way they can and consumers are consuming because it’s a good sale,” she said.

“The problem now is that a lot of the burden is on the consumer because a lot of the big companies are not focused on making the sales period sustainable in any way.”

Ms Sarkar says governments and big companies should mandate more sustainable practices.
“It’s a hierarchical structure, and governments need to put in place policies for what companies can and cannot do, and companies also need to start taking accountability… Big companies are still doing the cheapest, most powerful thing they can, and it ends up being single-use.” plastic.”
“Single-use plastic is one of the longest-lasting materials on the planet, used for the shortest amount of time, especially in times like these where there is Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday, and after that Christmas.”
In addition to using recyclable or compostable packaging, Ms. Sarkar says there are options for e-commerce companies large and small.
“There are a lot of quick wins companies can make, like adding a plugin to your website to measure the carbon you’re taking off,” she said.
“You can ask customers to add a dollar to offset the carbon, and you can talk to the places that are measuring your operations, and tell you how to offset that, so it will alleviate a lot of that burden.”

The Australian Retailers Association has been contacted for comment.

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