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  • Lily Muhlbaum

Why Black Friday is Bad for Our Planet

We all need stuff. But we don’t need as much stuff as we think. And we especially don’t need all of the stuff that we buy on Black Friday.

Black Friday perpetuates a cycle of consumerism and wasted natural resources. Consumerism is the theory that a large consumption of goods is economically desirable. However, many company executives only worry about the profit they make-- and disregard negative environmental impact of production.

On Black Friday, stores lure us in with half-off prices that entice us to purchase things we hadn’t originally planned on buying. Now, we have something that we don’t need and probably won’t use.

Cyber Monday shares the same concept. We order too many items online and end up returning many of them, leading to excessive amounts of packaging and gas that gets wasted on deliveries.

Let’s look at the lifecycle of something that could be bought on Black Friday: a t-shirt. First, cotton has to be grown, then it is spun, dyed, and sewn to make the shirt. This process uses an immense amount of water and adds chemicals to our ecosystem. In fact, cotton accounts for 16% of insecticide release globally. Next, fossil fuels are burned to transport the shirt multiple times before it reaches its final destination. Finally, after the shirt is purchased, most people only wear it two or three times before throwing it out.

However, throwing something out doesn’t mean it will just vanish. Clothes will end up in our landfills, our oceans, or they are burned. Is it really worth getting a shirt you don’t love just because of the irresistible price? Think about the strain that puts on our environment.

Black Friday is bad not only for our earth but also for the people making, transporting, and selling the items. Often, workers toil in inhumane conditions and are extremely underpaid. Instead of spending time with their families on Thanksgiving, they must work long and tiring hours for their employer.

I know, it’s really hard to pass up great bargains. I was so excited to go Black Friday shopping last year. I bought a lot of clothing items that I really didn’t need, didn’t wear, and didn’t even end up wanting. The reality was a let down, and I went home feeling unfulfilled.

So instead of going to the mall, and tempting yourself with sales, below are a few ideas for how to spend the day after Thanksgiving:

  • #OptOutside is a movement from outdoor company REI. It encourages people to spend Black Friday outside instead of in a shopping mall. They also have community clean-ups on Black Friday to pick up litter, so check out their website to get involved (that’s what I will be doing!).

  • Buy Nothing Day! It’s as simple as it sounds. Just don’t buy stuff this Black Friday.

  • Reflect on all you have to be thankful for that aren’t things.

Lastly, if you do decide to go Black Friday shopping, think about your choices! Assess if you really need that new item and if you would wear it. If it’s not exactly what you want, don’t buy it- you probably won’t wear it enough to justify the purchase. Also, please remember reusable bags :)

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Lily

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