Black Friday Environmental Impact

France officials have passed an amendment to ban Black Friday! Delphine Batho, a member of the French National Assembly, introduced the amendment to ban the retail sale trend that has been around since 2013. She believes that it pushes “overconsumption” and has "a disastrous environmental record". We at jude & laurel couldn’t agree more with this statement.


Where did Black Friday come from? And what are the environmental impacts of this annual shopping spree? Come with us to find out!


How Black Friday got started


Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, department stores would sponsor Thanksgiving day parades, and use the time as a way to promote their stores and announce great holiday sales. It eventually became the norm for stores to wait until after the parade to start advertising for Christmas sales. 


Given the short time span between American Thanksgiving and Christmas, many stores were tempted to start sales early and boost revenue. Though by that time, it was such a tradition, that no store wanted to be the first to alter it. Thus, Black Friday was there to stay as a holiday shopping starting line. 


Black Friday Environmental Impact

  • Production
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Recycling

An estimated 164 million people will be shopping over the 5 day Thanksgiving weekend (according to the National Retail Federation). Let’s put aside the glaring emissions statistics for a second, and focus on the products. 


Each American family has an average of 2 kids, each kid receiving maybe 5 toys made by large brands. Each of those have a plethora of twist ties, plastic covers, and other fasteners. Not to mention the layer of non-recyclable wrapping paper used to make it more “presentable” to the child who, let’s be honest, doesn’t care. This is a catastrophic environmental impact of 79.2 million families buying 792 million gifts (minimum). As well, most of these gifts are made out of non-recyclable toys that the child will grow bored of in two years or less.


On top of retailed gifts, there’s online purchasing, and with that, we circle back to our negative environmental impact leader; emissions. How many hundreds of thousands of gifts are purchased online? Each one usually individually wrapped and packaged in plastic, and then sent off to another point of the globe. Often getting lost and rerouted! We may as well let all our vehicles idle in our garages 24/7.


Anti Black Friday movement: what some brands are already doing


Outdoors product supplier REI has, for the past 4 years, opted out of a Black Friday promotional sale, and broadcasts #OptOutside to prompt people to spend time in nature, rather than in malls. 


Patagonia pledged 100% of Black Friday profits to be donated to environmental groups in 2016. 


Old Navy finds a decent medium by offering their socks for $1, and $1 of every purchase of the socks goes to the Boys & Girls Club. 


Alternative options for a better environmental impact


Yes, kids go crazy for the name brand toys, but that doesn’t mean that a good amount of your gifts purchased this year can’t have a better environmental impact! 


Take an hour to look online, and you’ll be shocked by the amount of local, eco-friendly stores offering great apparel, accessories, and toys that your kids will love. Some of these stores will also have physical storefronts for you to visit, and if you do; bring a reusable bag! 


When wrapping your presents, consider wrapping them in Kraft paper! It can be found at great prices, and you can even spend a day with your kids decorating it with stamps or drawings! Then they get to see their work sitting under the tree, and it’s 100% recyclable.


Vive la France!


We admire the steps France is taking, and we will be watching closely, with hope that other countries will follow suit. Do your part by keeping a bit more of the environmental impacts of Black Friday in mind this holiday season. We implore you to support a local business when looking for great gifts, they’ve got a lot to offer! 


Have any great eco-friendly Christmas hacks? Send us a message on our Instagram or Facebook!

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