Love Black Friday but hate the environmental costs that comes with it? You can enjoy the spectacle without disregarding the Earth this year. There are a plenty of ways – big and small – that consumers can help reduce their carbon footprint on Black Friday. Whether you’re a dedicated eco-advocate or just want to cut back on waste, these tips can help you enjoy a more eco-friendly Black Friday.
Thrift Store Friday
If you’ve got $20 in your pocket you can be much more environmentally and financially savvy by shopping at thrift, consignment or second-hand shops. While thrift stores may not be the fanciest venues for holiday shopping, they do offer a lot of goods at very low prices. Second-hand stores have everything from clothes and accessories to home goods and electronics. Before buying something newly made, check out your local thrift stores to see if any used items match products on your gift list. By buying used, you help to reduce the demand for items being produced and shipped to stores.
Small Business Saturday
This is a real movement that already exists to curtail retail giants’ monopoly on Black Friday. Small businesses across the US encourage you to get out and shop locally this weekend as a way of not only supporting your local economy, but of being eco-friendly. Why is shopping at a small business good for the environment? It varies from store to store, but many local businesses offer locally produced goods and are more attentive to being environmentally conscious than many major brands. Ask your local retailer what steps they’ve taken toward making their business greener.
No, you shouldn’t drink in public, but you should Bring Your Own Bag. Taking a reusable bag when you go shopping (keep a few in your purse or stuff one into your pocket) helps cut down on waste and can be extra fashionable (brands like Baggu offer hip styles of reusable bags). You can also skip the gift wrap, since no one will know which stores you went to; all your goods will be hidden in your brand-free reusable bag!
Farmers markets and craft fairs
Most cities host weekend farmers markets and a lot of cities also offer events like craft fairs or public art markets. Like small businesses, farmers markets and craft fairs put you in touch with local artists and farmers. Food at the farmers market comes directly from nearby farms with no extra packaging and no extra transportation costs. Craft fairs have the same benefits, plus they require little to no overhead – no one is spending energy to keep the lights and the heat on since these events are typically held in an open park or covered market area.
Tired of circling the parking lots looking for a space to leave the car? You may not need to drive to the mall! Most major shopping areas are accessible by public transit. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area with a reliable bus, train or light rail service, it’s likely worthwhile to take public transportation on your shopping trip. You won’t have to worry about competing with the masses for a parking spot and you can relax, talk with your friends and family or read a book while you travel. If there isn’t great public transit in your area, consider carpooling to the mall to save on gas.
You don’t necessarily need to go shopping on Black Friday. If you’re desperate for deals, you can check for Cyber Monday promotions online, or take a break from the hectic consumerism altogether. Stay home with family and friends, make culinary creations from your Thanksgiving leftovers or plan any other social event far from the shopping crowds. You can create your own day-after-Thanksgiving tradition!
Even small efforts can have a major impact when taken together. Using your own bag may feel like a simple step, but in the long run it can make a big difference.
Shopping photo courtesy of Shutterstock.