With Halloween over and the weather turning colder, there’s no doubt that the Christmas spirit is in the air. With this spirit comes the anticipation of gift-giving and receiving, a way to express our gratitude, love, and friendship with others.
As cheap, exploitive consumerism rises in popularity, gift-giving can quickly turn a generous action into one with unintended consequences.
One day that highlights the popularity of cheap consumerism is Black Friday. The great deals and discounted products attract millions of shoppers, making November 21-26th the busiest shopping days according to Adobe Analytics.
These deals are usually made possible by using petroleum-based plastics and other cheap materials to make their products, lowering the price of the product at the expense of its longevity. Once discarded, less than 9% of these plastic products are recycled, most ending up in landfills where they take centuries to break down or worse: the ocean where they break down into micro plastics that can poison the ocean’s wildlife.
These concerns have been met with renewed interest in sustainability by many of this year’s shoppers. 50% of surveyed shoppers expressed concern about the sustainability and ethicality of their shopping and expressed plans to practice sustainable shopping, according to a survey conducted by the consulting firm Accenture.
In order to address these welling concerns, many new opportunities and tricks are available for consumers to make their shopping more eco-friendly.
One of the easiest ways to make your shopping experience more sustainable is to plan ahead, shop in advance, and shop all at once.
If shopping online, try to order all your products in a single order, limiting the need for multiple small deliveries. Additionally, avoid expedited shipping which takes more energy to deliver, using more planes than buses or trains to ship your product. Regular shipping, however, utilizes routes that are more energy efficient and ships more products at once, reducing the emissions needed to deliver your package.
Consolidating your order will also decrease the amount of packaging needed to ship your items. Additionally, opt for reduced packaging when possible and try to order items that are delivered in recyclable packages.
Even when shopping in person, consolidating your shopping into a few trips will cut back on the energy it takes to get to and from the store.
In addition to considering the sustainability of the delivery of your products, consider the sustainability of the product itself. Try to avoid flashy deals and instead focus on investing in high-quality, well-made items. It may seem more expensive at first but, as the products last longer, the cost per use will actually be a better deal. Additionally, buy products that are made from natural materials (like wood or bamboo) or recycled materials rather than petroleum-based plastics that are taxing to extract and hard to dispose of.
If you are wanting to shop sustainably this season but are unable to sacrifice the great deals that large and fast production can provide, buying second hand, used items is a great option. Buying second hand gives new life to items that would otherwise end up in landfills and are often extremely affordable.
This season, remember to shop locally! Shopping from small, local businesses is a great way to not only be sustainable this season but to also support your community and the businesses that make it unique.
Over the next month, consider not only giving back to your friends and family but also giving back to the environment by implementing some sustainable shopping practices into your holiday routine.