Black Friday 2022: How does the sale impact the environment?

Important points
  • Australians are expected to spend an estimated $6.2 billion on November 24-28 Black Friday sales.
  • The annual sales period that began in the US has grown into a major global shopping event.
  • As shoppers behind bargains, advocates warn of cost to the planet and fast-fashion garment workers.
Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday Sales are two of them but as shoppers bargain, proponents warn that the sales are bad for both the environment and the workers who make consumer goods.
For many shoppers, the sales offer an opportunity to buy gifts ahead of the holiday sale, but critics say they encourage overconsumption

So how do the environment and workers pay when savvy shoppers save money?

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

The Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday sales began in the United States and took place over a four-day period the day after Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, giving many Americans a day off on the Friday before the weekend.
Retailers took this opportunity to turn it into a sales day to boost profits into the holiday season.
The name Black Friday was coined by Philadelphia police officers in the 1950s and 60s because of problems such as traffic jams, shoplifting and even violence caused by large crowds from the suburbs flooding the city to shop on the holiday weekend.
It was later promoted by retailers in the 1980s with the connotation that it helped shift balance sheets from deficit (red) to profit (black).
The name Cyber ​​​​​​Monday was created by retailers in the mid-2000s to encourage shoppers to buy online.
Over the years the event has spread across the world and is getting bigger and bigger every year.
Last year, Australians spent more than an estimated $8 billion in 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 2021 numbers and equates to $1,076,389 per minute.

How are Black Friday sales bad for the environment?

Jeff Angel, director of the Boomerang Alliance, which works to reduce waste, says many of the items commonly bought during Black Friday sales go to landfill, along with the plastic they’re typically packaged in land.
“We find quite a lot of products – like fast fashion, toys that have very limited interest and lifespans, other types of short-term consumer goods – sadly when they are dumped in landfills, which is a huge waste of resources and leads to pollution “, he said.

“The fact that they’re produced at such a high rate means they have a higher energy footprint and therefore a higher carbon footprint, and then of course the excess packaging, which is hardly ever recycled in Australia.”

A store with signs saying Black Friday saves up to 50 percent

Black Friday has become a major shopping event worldwide. Source: AAP

Those who try to do the right thing by throwing unwanted items or packaging into recycling bins may also be unknowingly contributing to excess litter and landfill, Mr Angel warns.

He told SBS News that Australia doesn’t have a strong recycling rate, especially after it
“All of these products come in an excessive amount 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 nowhere near that, and if we don’t recycle then we will.” it goes to the landfill,” he said.

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

What about the people who make these products?

Environmental considerations aren’t the only factor when it comes to Black Friday sales.

Humanitarian groups warn that over-consumption and over-production are also harmful to fast-fashion garment workers, many of whom do not earn a living wage.

Lyn Morgain, CEO of anti-poverty charity Oxfam Australia, says the Black Friday cycle and surging demand could hurt garment workers.
“The vast majority of garment workers are underpaid,” she said.
“There is no question that fast fashion and the commercial practices that accompany it are not necessarily good for workers.”
Ms Morgain said the figures show apparel industry revenue has grown 18 percent in two years, with profits hitting $1 billion last year.
“The industry can afford to pay women fairly,” she said.

“We need consumers to go beyond price as the sole measure and understand what’s behind that price can mean a whole lot of things that they wouldn’t be comfortable with knowing.”

How could Black Friday be improved?

Advocates say that not only are consumers making conscious purchases, but governments and businesses have a duty to improve business practices and recycling programs.
Anaita Sarkar is CEO and co-founder of Hero Packaging, which sells sustainable and compostable packaging to e-commerce companies.
She says 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 just ship goods as best they can, and consumers also consume 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 big companies aren’t focused on making the sale period sustainable in any way.”

Ms Sarkar says governments and big companies should push through more sustainable practices.
“It’s a hierarchical structure, governments have to set policies about what corporations can and can’t do, and corporations also have to start taking responsibility…big corporations are still doing the cheapest and baddest thing possible, and that ends up being, Being single – use plastic,” she said.
“Single-use plastic is one of the most durable materials on this planet and is only used for the shortest amount of time, especially during times like these when there’s Black Friday, Cyber ​​​​​​Monday and then Christmas.”
In addition to using recyclable or compostable packaging, Ms. Sarkar says there are options for both large and small e-commerce businesses.
“There are a lot of quick wins that companies can achieve, like adding a plugin to your website to measure carbon emissions,” she said.
“You can ask customers to add a dollar for carbon offsetting, you can talk to entities that measure your operations and tell you how to offset them so that that burden is significantly reduced.”

The Australian Retailers Association has been asked for comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *