Black Friday can encourage unsustainable spending habits. Here, we explain how to shop sustainably so you can save both money and the planet.
Ever wondered how the annual frenzied shopping event got its name? Well, it all started back in 1960s Philadelphia when thousands of pre-Christmas shoppers caused traffic chaos. The exhaust fumes from the queues of cars filled the air, and frustrated local police officers dubbed it ‘Black Friday’.
So, it’s safe to say the biggest shopping day of the year didn’t get off to the most sustainable start. And when retailers saw the opportunity to cash in on the craze with flash sales and massive discounts, Black Friday’s damaging shop-til-you-drop culture was born.
Getting more for your money might be the name of the game, but when every ‘bargain’ purchase comes with an array of unwanted freebies – overconsumption, waste, carbon emissions – aren’t we actually losing? It’s time for change. That’s why we’re sharing our top tips for Black Friday sustainability.
1. Bring your own bags
Okay, let’s start small. If you’re doing a spot of in-person shopping, why not take your own reusable and recyclable bags? Not only will you be reducing your consumption of nasty single-use plastics, you'll be saving your pennies too, as most shops now charge for bags.
We never leave the house without our Tropic tote bags. Made from durable canvas, they’re the perfect shopping companions. Better still, all profits from this trusty tote are donated to Young Women’s Trust – an incredible UK charity helping 18- to -30-year-olds fulfil their potential.
But remember, any reusable bag works – so have a hunt through your cupboards before you add one to your basket.
2. Buy second hand
Is there anything more satisfying than finding a hidden gem on a charity shop rail? Or getting an absolute steal on your favourite preloved app? Buying second hand is arguably the most sustainable way to shop. It decreases the need for new labour and materials, as well as reducing a whole lot of waste.
And when you can pick things up for a fraction of the full price, you can satisfy your shopping habit without costing the earth – literally.
3. Shop from ethical brands
If buying second hand isn’t an option, why not spend your money with sustainable brands that are doing something positive for the planet and its people?
At Tropic, we double offset all of our carbon emissions, sustainably source all our ingredients, and donate 10% of all profits to charities and good causes. But we’re not the only ones.
To learn about a brand’s ethics, just head over to its website. Does it mention paying workers a fair wage? How about environmental projects? Or maybe funding important charity initiatives? If not, you’ll likely have a hard time securing sustainable Black Friday deals.
Once you’ve found out more about a company’s values, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to support its mission.
4. Don’t forget delivery
Since most orders nowadays are made online, almost all these purchases will need to be delivered (probably by a diesel-guzzling van). In fact, last year’s Black Friday deliveries produced an estimated 386,243 tonnes of carbon – equivalent to 215 flights between London and Sydney!
The message? Factor in these additional carbon emissions before you click ‘buy now’ and, where possible, look for brands that are committed to carbon offsetting.
Oh, did we mention that we double offset all our carbon emissions to help the planet breathe a little better?
5. Make a shopping list
It may sound simple, but making a list is one of the best ways to keep the temptations of Black Friday at bay and promote more conscious consumption.
We know how difficult it can be to dodge the middle aisle, but here’s the truth: you’re not really getting a deal if you’re buying things you didn't want or need in the first place.
So, before the sales start, take five minutes to jot down the items you’ve been meaning to buy and any gifts you’ve got in the pipeline. Then, refer back to your list before you check out. That way, you’ll avoid getting sucked into those ‘unmissable deals’ with prices that seem too good to pass up.
6. Be savvy
Research reveals that 99.5% of Black Friday deals are cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. So, if you really are tempted by that retro popcorn maker, come back to it in a couple of months. You’ll probably get it for a lower price than before (if you haven’t already forgotten about it!).
7. Support small businesses
Shopping locally is one of the best ways to increase the sustainability of your spending. Not only are you reducing the carbon footprint of your purchases, you’re also putting a smile on the face of a small business owner.
Rather than defaulting to the high street giants this Black Friday, get out and explore the stores in your local neighbourhood – there’s so much to be uncovered.
8. Buy cruelty-free
At Tropic, our products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. It’s non-negotiable. But sadly, this isn’t the case for lots of companies, particularly in the beauty and fashion industry.
Whether you’re stocking up on cosmetics or clothes, look out for the Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty Free, and PETA labels.
It’s worth remembering that some small businesses might not be able to afford these accreditations, so have a chat with a member of staff if you have any questions.
9. Celebrate Giving Tuesday
Founded in 2012, Giving Tuesday is an annual day dedicated to small acts of generosity. An antidote to the chaos of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it encourages people to do good by volunteering some of their time, donating to a charitable cause, or making a positive impact in their community.
This festive season, we’ve partnered with Women’s Aid to send confidence-boosting self-care parcels to survivors of domestic abuse.
Buy Sensibly This Year
Sustainability is one of the worst Black Friday problems we face. However, with these tips, you can lessen your negative impact on the environment while still grabbing a deal. Let’s turn black Friday green, together. Happy (sustainable) shopping!