Black Friday is an American tradition that’s happened since 1924. Millions of Americans load into their cars, and drive to the nearest Walmart or scour the internet for the best deals they can find. According to The Guardian, 82,000 delivery trucks filled to the brim with cardboard boxes hit the road in the UK alone last year and at least 70% of Americans plan to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Online shopping is raising transportation emissions in a big way. There are also many other environmental impacts to keep in mind. James McGinnis, a member of the Forest Service and the Climate Change Commission in Ashland says that “the average person has around 81 pounds of clothing waste every year.” That’s around 26 billion pounds total. He says, “When you buy something, you have to think of all the steps it’s had to take to get to you. The material is grown in another country, where pesticides and herbicides are most likely used. The material is then sent to another warehouse to be made, then another warehouse to wait to be shipped, then shipped to your door, or to a store.” While many people recycle their goods, even the way that the items are recycled isn’t sustainable. Cardboard is recyclable, but all of the plastic and tape that you receive with your package isn’t. McGinnis says, “When you recycle an item, let’s say an iPad, it’s sent to another country to be recycled, usually a third world country. Workers melt down the metal items, which is toxic to breathe and seeps into their wells, water supplies, and soil.” McGinnis brought up the idea of Buy Nothing Day, which takes place the same day as Black Friday. Participants don’t buy anything for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Reducing your footprint may seem daunting, but small changes can make a huge difference.