4 MINUTE READ
The two biggest shopping days of the year in the US are- you guessed it- Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2020, Black Friday online sales grew to about $9 billion, up 21.6% from 2019. What’s more wild? USPS (United States Postal Service) anticipates 850 million deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — that’s about 15% of the entire year’s packages in a little over a month. That’s about 10 percent more holiday shipments than just last year.
The environmental impact is growing along with these numbers.
That’s why we’ll be sharing ways to shop more sustainably this holiday season. We want to encourage mindful gifting & conscious consumption by sharing some facts around waste during the holiday season, and more importantly, how to reduce these numbers in the future.
Waste Generated by Top Consumer Goods
Electronics are a huge part of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. In 2018, 2 billion dollars were spent on cell phones alone during this period.
In 2019, the US generated 6.92 million tons of e-waste- that’s about 46 pounds per person. Of that 6.92 million tons, only about 15% of the material was recycled. Maybe, it’s possible that there is no value in this e-waste, right? Turns out that’s not the case either. The value of the raw materials contained in this electronic waste was $7.49 billion.
When buying (or gifting) electronics, have a plan to properly dispose of the old electronics. A lot of cell phone manufacturers have trade-in programs or will recycle electronics at no cost. Stores like Best Buy will recycle TVs for $30, so if gifting a TV it’s a good idea to gift the cost of recycling too!
Books are a common holiday gift, so popular that in the US 25% of books are purchased during the holiday season (November & December). That’s 173 million books! In the US it’s estimated 640,000 tons of books, approximately 320 million, are sent to the landfill annually.
When buying (or gifting) books, shop secondhand! There are plenty of books in great condition looking to be read again. You can also gift e-books or e-book subscriptions- no paper waste here! Ask your friends if they’d like to do a holiday book swap instead of buying new gifts- everyone wins.
Clothing is another category where you’ll see endless sales during this time of year. Around the world we now consume about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed only 20 years ago. With the rise of fast fashion, it’s not a surprise to hear every American generates around 82 pounds of clothing waste a year.
There has been a rise of sustainable fashion over the last few years. Even brands like Zara and H&M now offer sustainable clothing collections. While it’s great to shop sustainable collections, it’s also easy to find items secondhand that are new with tags! Even luxury items can be found online at shops like The Real Real. And, vintage is in, so why not gift a one-of-kind piece?
When gifting clothing items, maybe gift a ThredUp bag with a prepaid label for old clothing to be donated and recycled? Just an idea! Also, there are so many retailers that will now recycle old clothing for you. H&M doesn’t limit their textile recycling to clothing, you can take them home textiles too!
We hope with this information you can shop with mindfulness and gift intentionally this holiday season!
More to come.
Image: Hannah Thornhill for Susteau
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