We all love a bargain, it’s true. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. But in the crazy rush for cut-price possessions that we call Black Friday, it’s also worth considering the impact such frenzied spending has – on the planet, your pocket (especially when everything is already costing WAY more than last year) and your mental health.
The black side of Black Friday
There’s no question that Black Friday comes at a huge cost to the planet and society. Here’s why:
- Increased emissions. In 2022, online clothes shopping on Black Friday produced around 33,002 tons of carbon emissions – 72 per cent higher than a normal day.
- Harms local retailers. Smaller retailers cannot compete with bulk discounts offered by giant online brands. If we want to keep our local shops, we need to use them at times like Christmas.
- Most of what you buy ends up in landfill anyway. Over 80 per cent of items and plastics bought on Black Friday end up in incineration, landfill, and sometimes low-quality recycling after a very short time.
- People get hurt or even killed. 17 deaths and 125 injuries have resulted from stampedes and catfights on Black Friday to date, according to the site ‘Black Friday Death Count.‘
- Creates a waste mountain. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and pre-Christmas binge shopping leads to 4.2 million unwanted electrical items being binned or put in storage.
- It’s stressful! Searching for the best deals and the rush to beat others to it on Black Friday puts a lot of stress on shoppers and employees.
So is it really possible to go for Black Friday bargains and net yourself a good deal, without feeling too blue (or black) – and unnecessarily poorer – afterwards?
Here are our 7 Golden Rules to having a better, greener, and all-round more enjoyable Black Friday this year.
GOLDEN RULE 1:
- Only buy things you would have bought anyway. It’s not a bargain if you are spending money you would not otherwise have spent, is it? You’re quids DOWN on the deal.
GOLDEN RULE 2:
- Assess the cost per use of the item to work out its true value. Cheap might look like a bargain, but it’s not if you only wear it twice because it’s a bit crap really, is it? This is your excuse to spend a bit more on quality. The cost per wear or cost per use is your guide to true value – not the price label you see.
GOLDEN RULE 3:
- Work out what are needs, and what are wants. There’s a lot of novelty nonsense around at this time of year and retailers’ very existence depends on their ability to tempt you, so that is what they do, with a bombardment of marketing via post, email, sidebars – you name it, they will make their way into your consciousness because they know their target market. So this line between needs and wants can become very blurred and it’s up to you to be strict and really straighten it out.
GOLDEN RULE 4:
- Create a budget, make a list of all of the people you need to buy for and what (roughly) you would like to buy for them. Then, divide that budget up accordingly. It might mean that Auntie Pam only gets a pair of socks, but she’ll be happy with that, honestly.
GOLDEN RULE 5:
- This one only applies if you have kids under 3. Take it from us, they don’t care what’s in their presents, they just want lots of them. So go to a charity shop and go crazy on things priced at £3 or less. It’s the cheapest and most guilt-free way to bulk up their present corner on Christmas day. And then it doesn’t matter whether they play with them or not. You can always take them back to the charity shop for someone else to enjoy next year.
GOLDEN RULE 6:
- See the words ethical, local, fairtrade, eco or organic, and if it is something you would get anyway and doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount more, then go for that. You will be making a smaller contribution to tat mountain, reducing transportation miles, buying quality (probably), and generally doing the world a favour. Amazon has its place, but may we suggest limiting it to 10 per cent of your total supply source this Christmas.
GOLDEN RULE 7:
- ‘One for me, one for the foodbank or shelter’. Go ahead and go nuts buying things for family and friends, but don’t forget about those in greater need. The use of foodbanks in the UK has risen significantly over the last few years, so you can really do your bit for your local community if you consider some additional purchases for the foodbank or shelter. Check out the reverse advent calendar idea.