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Black Friday - sustainability and environment protection?

Black Friday - A Black Friday for environmental protection and sustainability?

Want to know what Black Friday is and what it means for environmental protection and sustainability? Then you've come to the right place! Black Friday, the last Friday in November, has also become a tradition in Germany: it is an annual highlight for shoppers. Countless online stores and bricks-and-mortar stores reduce their stocks around this day - and do so drastically. What makes shoppers' hearts beat faster, however, rightly worries environmental organizations.

In this article, you can now find out what the holiday for bargain hunters is all about, why it performs so poorly in terms of sustainability and what alternatives environmentally conscious consumers have. Let's go!

What is Black Friday anyway?

In the USA, Black Friday heralds the start of the Christmas shopping season. It falls on the last Friday in November every year and therefore the day after Thanksgiving. Many people use it as a day off and take the opportunity to do their initial Christmas shopping. Retailers recognized this early on and began lowering prices on this day decades ago. In Germany, the event has only been known for a few years - but it is all the more popular for it. Whether online or offline, there is hardly a retailer who is not involved.

Where does the name "Black Friday" come from? This is controversial: some believe it stems from the crowds that storm the stores on this day, others associate it with the black figures that keep the tills ringing at closing time. What is certain, however, is that the savings day for shoppers was first referred to as Black Friday in 1966.

Good to know: However, the sentence in question, in which the term was used, was not positive. Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a member of the American Dialect Society, complained about the "massive traffic jams and crowded sidewalks" and the "besieged stores in downtown Philadelphia".

Black Friday and sustainability - why don't they go together?

Why Black Friday and sustainability don't go together

Taylor-Blake was very successful with her Criticism of "Black Friday a pioneer. Not everyone is reporting positively on Black Friday - especially against the backdrop of the Climate changewhich is not least the result of steadily growing consumption, our Disposable society and the increasing consumption natural resources is. Fortunately, there is also a growing awareness of issues such as sustainability and environmental protection. Word has got around that buying new goods has a negative impact on the climate and our planet.

There are many reasons for this. For example, the production of goods immense amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and devours valuable raw materials. This applies to goods of all kinds - from clothing to electronics. The production of a pair of jeans alone requires around 8,000 liters of water.₁ The production of electronic products such as smartphones also has drastic consequences for environmental protection.₂

For microchips and other components, so-called Rare earths needed. They describe a group of metals, some of which are used under catastrophic and inhuman conditions that are not to be associated with sustainability and environmental protection.

And it's not just production that devours raw materials and increases CO2 emissions. The Transport of the goodsfrom the manufacturer to the stores and on to the consumer causes emissions. In addition, there are the returns, lighting, ventilation and heating required in the stores - and shoppers also have to reach the stores. If you travel to the city center by car for Black Friday, you can add further negative points to your ecological footprint list.

Tip: How you Avoid returns in general you can find out here!

Buy, use, wear - and then what?

Whether clothing, beauty products or electronics - the life cycle of goods is becoming ever shorter. In particular Fast Fashion in the criticism. The cheaply produced, trendy clothing, which is usually does not run for more than one season or is generally short-livednot only pollutes the environment during production, but also causes mountains of waste to grow. And because the majority of fashion is made from synthetic fibers, neither production nor disposal can be considered sustainable: The production of polyester and co. devours large quantities of crude oil. Slow Fashion is the counter-movement - and stands for an appreciative and resource-conserving approach to clothing.

Smartphones and tablets can also have an immense impact on the environment if disposed of incorrectly. It's best to use them for as long as possible - and if nothing else works, reselling them to tinkerers and hobbyists is still the best solution.

Black Friday: Interest and sales on the rise according to statistics

If consumption is already high on regular shopping days, it increases many times over on Black Friday. When the term Black Friday is mentioned, it is clear that it is the the best-selling shopping day of the year and also serves as the initiator of the Christmas business.

Every year, it draws countless people into the cities and in front of their computers. In 2020, around 34 percent of Germans will use at least one offer on Black Friday - And the trend is rising: in 2019, it was 33%. Sales on Black Friday are also growing continuously: from 3.1 billion euros in 2019 to 3.7 billion euros in 2020.₃

On average, each buyer purchases four new products that have to be produced beforehand - with the aforementioned impact on people and the environment.₄

What are the alternatives to/on Black Friday?

Black Friday - Why doesn't that go together with sustainability?

Black Friday is coming under increasing criticism from environmental organizations, but also from environmentally conscious consumers. The topic of sustainability is topical for good reasons - more and more people buy second-hand goods quite specifically.₅

The growing popularity is not least due to online stores that no longer only offer new goods, but also high-quality second-hand items - including on Black Friday. If you want to save money, make a bargain and still do something good for the environment, you can look around on the relevant platforms and opt for a retread iPhone decide

As a counter-design to Black Friday, some stores have also proclaimed their own shopping days. There is, for example, the Green Sundaylaunched by eBay Classifieds. The tenor: buy more used, own the Reduce ecological footprint and save money in the process. 

Also IKEA or the marketplace Back Market offer on Black Friday buy-back campaigns: Customers can exchange their used furnishings and cell phones for money. The idea: simply don't buy anything, but rather sell it.

Black Friday for sustainability and environmental protection? Not necessarily!

The term Black Friday is a source of great joy for many people, but it tends to make advocates of sustainability and environmental protection uneasy. But there are alternatives that can help you save money when buying bargains and reduce your personal CO2 emissions at the same time. It doesn't always have to be a new purchase. Whether smartphones, tablets, notebooks or headsets, clothing, shoes or accessories: in view of ever shorter life cycles, all these goods are also available second-hand in practically new condition - and this ultimately protects the environment in the long term.

"You are not sovereign if you have a lot, but need little."

Nico Paech, economist (more at Minimalism Quotes)

I think Black Friday is a good day to become aware of this problem and its solutions. Consumption only makes you happy in the short term - But in the medium and long term, it is definitely a threat to our planet, our health and our global coexistence.

Do you have any questions, tips or other alternatives to Black Friday? Then feel free to write me a comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Do you already know how to Store online as sustainably as possible can? Find out now in the linked article. Have fun!

₁ Marion Hütter: Why you waste water (as at: 06.08.2021), available at [21.10.2021].

₂ Jan Willmroth: (as at: 30.06.2015), available at [21.10.2021].

₃ Handelsverband Deutschland - HDE e.V.: Black Friday and Cyber Monday, available at [21.10.2021].

₄ S.A.: Top online stores - Black Friday Germany, available at [21.10.2021].

₅ Philipp Schneider: The trend is towards secondary use (as of 20.01.2021), available at [21.10.2021].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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