Many people gear up in anticipation of Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year following Thanksgiving. This year, Pink Goes Green would like you to consider an alternative to Black Friday. How about making it a Green Friday instead?
The Product Policy Institute just released this startling fact: "Production, consumption and disposal of the huge quantity of short-lived products and packaging used in the United States contribute 44% of all U.S. greenhouse gas impacts, according to the PPI report (written by the same technical author as the US EPA report). These emissions have a dangerous impact on the Earth's climate."
We probably don't think about the environment when we gas up our vehicles and head to the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Foremost in our minds are all of the great deals we're going to find on this designated shopping day, not how quickly our buys will fall by the wayside once they are used or replaced with the next great product.
The Product Policy Institute goes on to tell us, "It [Black Friday] lands only ten days prior to the start of COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen. The gathering will be the world's largest meeting of legislators trying to tackle the economic and social effects of a warming planet. An agreement in Copenhagen to take strong, decisive action to combat climate change also has the potential to jumpstart the moribund global economy. If producers were required to ensure environmentally sound stewardship of their products and packaging, this would create local economic opportunities and green jobs in recycling and repair services in communities all over the world where the products now become waste."
While we may be waiting quite a while for manufacturers and retailers to take responsibility for the products they make (and the way they market those products), we can make it our responsibility to see that Black Friday doesn't give our environment a black eye. Here are some great tips from Good Housekeeping:
- Buy green gifts for the holidays. Support the manufacturers who are jumping on the sustainability train and look for the great new eco-items that are out there. From fragrances to clothes to home spa luxuries, you can find green alternatives to most things you are looking for.
- Forget gift cards. The dormancy charges, the forgotten balances ... and even the potential for fraud make these cards a bad deal for you. Plus, they're often made of plastic and will live on in landfills forever and ever. You can find an alternative, such as ecocards made of recyclable material, or, better yet, online ecocards. Ask your retailer if they offer e-gift cards or e-gift certificates. Most do.
- Start a stay-at-home Friday family tradition. Keep the family thing going one more day. Stay home and make gifts, holiday treats, things to give that cost less and come from the heart.
- Send holiday e-cards. Save a tree and save a stamp and send a holiday e-card.
- Give a starter kit of eco-friendly gifts. Put together a collection of goodies to help your friends and family members get started going green. Think of the very first green steps and include things such as a collection of CFL light bulbs, a pound of organic fair trade coffee, a power strip for fighting the energy vampire at home, a tire pressure gauge, eco-friendly cleaning products - all put in a cool-looking shopping tote bag they can use for their own grocery trips all year.
- Spend less and donate more. Put the heart back into the holidays this year. Remember what you're celebrating by remembering the less fortunate. Or, make a donation in a family member or friend's name - the ultimate gift to a cause, the recipient and you!
If you just can't give up your shopping habit on Black Friday, then don't forget to:
- Carpool to the mall. Make it even more fun by shopping with a couple of family members or friends ... it saves gas, reduces carbon and makes parking easier.
- Buy American-made. Not only does this reduce the chance of purchasing lead-laced toys, or lead jewelry, it reduces your personal carbon footprint by not buying products shipped in from faraway lands. Plus, it supports a fellow American factory worker.
- BYOB. Bring your own bags (shopping bags, that is). Don't laugh - everyone's doing it.
- Skip the drive-through. Idling your car puts pollutants into the air. So don't use the drive-through; stop the car and walk into the fast food joint. Better yet, grab a salad at a locally owned restaurant.
- Shop local retailers. Support local stores run by local people. It's a way to support a thriving local economy - a very green concept whose time has come.
- Shop online. The Internet is open for business every day, including Black Friday, with plenty of deals and steals. (Expect the best Web deals on Cyber Monday.)
Start a new tradition this year - Green Friday!
Sources: Product Policy Institute:Black Friday Tarnishes the Globe