Black Friday - it’s one of the most significant consumer sales periods of the year. In fact, 42% of UK retailers believe that Black Friday is more important than Christmas.
However, while this consumer ‘holiday’ is good for sales, it’s proven to be an environmental menace.
It’s estimated that Black Friday deliveries in 2021 produced roughly 386,243 tonnes of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of a staggering 215,778 return flights between London and Sydney (Over 7 billion km). And, fueled by the pandemic, Black Friday 2020 was the most polluting year yet, with an estimated 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions emitted through deliveries alone.
Isn’t it scary how just one day of sales has a lifetime's worth of damage?
As consumers become more aware of ethical consumerism and start moving towards more sustainable living, businesses are looking at various ways to make Black Friday green. For some companies like Patagonia and Allbirds, that means boycotting the day altogether. For others like Bedfolk and L’occitane, it means donating some of the day’s profits to charitable causes and projects.
But when you’re a smaller business or independent retailer, embedding sustainable practices into your business may seem daunting, especially around a day like Black Friday. You might not know where to start, and that’s okay. With such a range of information, it’s often difficult to know the best course of action to take.
So, we reached out to our community of Earth-positive companies to find out what they are doing this year to help lower the environmental impact that Black Friday has, and maybe it will inspire you for next year.
Founded in 2006, Monkee Genes was created to fight back against the fashion industry's impact on the environment and people’s lives.
From beginning to end, their jeans are made with people and the planet in mind, from providing fair living wages and good working conditions to all involved and minimising their environmental footprint without losing the quality of their denim.
For Black Friday 2022, Monkee Genes are focusing on preventing overconsumption. To do this, they’re:
Alongside this, they’re using Greenspark to plant 1 tree for every order placed on their website for Black Friday 2021.
“We wanted to show that people don’t need to purchase on Black Friday. It has turned from a couple of days with special deals to weeks of endless ‘promotions’, the promise of bargains and grab-it-now deals. We want everyone to know you don’t need to feel pressured by well-curated marketing. We are a small brand, and it could be a big day for us financially. After the pandemic years, we could really do with it, but this is bigger than us. It's bigger than a bargain, some clearance offer or this year’s version of a ‘sustainable’ offer - it's about our future, our planet. This is worth more than any profit we could have received on Black Friday.”
Trend Tonic is the original cork earring company, creating statement earrings and jewellery that everyone can wear.
From the design, making and packaging of their earrings, everything is made from sustainable, vegan, plastic-free cork and high-quality hypoallergenic metal.
For Black Friday, Trend Tonic supports Colour Friday, an initiative to encourage consumers to vote with their wallets and support small businesses.
Colour Friday encourages shoppers to spend their money in independent stores and on gifts that are made to last, not made for landfills. This means spending a little more on quality over quantity.
For every piece of jewellery Trend Tonic sell on Black Friday, they’ll plant a tree and rescue ocean-bound plastic for sales and offset carbon for delivery, and they’ll send a free gift as a thank you for supporting an independent small business.
“Small independent businesses need support. We've also been hugely affected by the cost-of-living crisis and hammered by the likes of Amazon and the big players. We can't offer 50% flash sales, cover our materials and overheads, and make a profit.”
Lady K Loves (LKL) creates retro-inspired easy-to-wear women's wear with a focus on denim and separates. All are made ethically and sustainably.
They use deadstock fabrics for their woven ranges, saving these fabrics from landfill, and their denim factory is accredited with OEKO-TEX, GOTS and OCS (organic accreditations), using sustainable dyes and reduced water technology too.
Lady K Loves has not participated in Black Friday for a few years and will continue that tradition in 2022.
Instead, they’ve spent the month of November educating their customers about why they don’t participate in Black Friday.
Alongside education around the impact of Black Friday, they’re focusing more on Small Business Saturday, sharing smaller businesses that they love and how consumers can support them. They’ll also plant a tree for each sale and offset carbon for orders over £50.
“As a small business, navigating the challenge it creates with your cash flow is hard because everyone waits until the end of the month to shop. Massive high street brands can afford to discount hugely because they either create 'false sales' (inflate the price for a duration before reducing it over the main weekend) or it's old lines they were keen to clear anyway. Hopefully, this year there won't be riots or fighting in shops like there have been pre-pandemic. It all just feels a bit mad, really! There's a sense of pressure to outdo other businesses or offer the biggest reduction. the whole thing doesn't align with our values. We make two big sales a year, Post Christmas and August, our discounts are always massive at that point, and we put on great offers just for our Girl Gang email list throughout the year too!”
Born in 2017 in Valencia, Naan Furniture was developed to offer sustainable wood furniture in a Mediterranean style. They create 100% locally produced pieces with noble materials to help make homes warmer and cosier places.
Working with natural pine wood with PEFC certifications, they ensure all their wood comes from responsibly managed forests and work with local craftsmen. In addition, they’ve managed to eliminate most of the plastics in their packaging, becoming almost zero waste today.
Naan Furniture does not participate in Black Friday as mass production generates a large amount of waste, causing greater pollution in logistics and transportation. However, for every sale, Naan Furniture will plant five trees with Greenspark.
“Contributing to a sustainable future means making conscious choices in our daily lives, both as individuals and as community members. We shy away from irrational consumption and are committed to buying only what will have a long useful life. We don’t pretend to demonise Black Friday. Still, we want to defend conscious and responsible shopping because only in this way can we achieve a much more sustainable production model for us and for the environment.”
Amschela is a luxury accessories brand from Bristol that hold PETA-Approved Vegan status. Their handbags are made to make the wearer feel empowered and glamorous, as well as prove that vegan alternatives to leather can achieve the same high quality and beautiful look without harming animals. They’ve also signed the SME Climate Commitment, pledging that by 2030 we will be a Net-Zero brand.
They continue to develop new products that use more sustainable materials and processes. In their last collection, Genesis, they released a clutch bag made from woven wheat straw (a zero-waste by-product of wheat farming) and a mini bag made from recycled bicycle tyres.
For Black Friday this year, Amschela offers customers 35% off all their online products. However, unlike the larger businesses, Amschela won’t increase stock levels for the usual Black Friday demands. Believing in quality over quantity, they don’t want to create a bigger carbon footprint through mass production.
The purchases made through their Black Friday sales will go towards planting trees, rescuing ocean-bound plastic and offsetting carbon through Greenspark.
“We are offering more sustainable and vegan alternatives by breaking through the mass of fast-fashion and non-vegan luxury goods in the marketplace.”
Tofino Distillery is the only Certified Organic Distillery on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, using local organic grain exclusively in its processes. It is truly authentic in its approach, not only to the spirits produced but in its commitment to effecting positive impacts environmentally and to the local west coast community it calls home.
Alongside the environmental impact they make every day with Greenspark, Tofino Distillery is a Surfrider-approved business, partners with a local pilot compost project, and sponsors countless charitable initiatives, both eco-driven and for those less fortunate.
For Tofino, Black Friday has become 'Blue Friday', with a percentage of proceeds from the day going directly to rescue styrofoam from the Pacific Ocean, as well as the development of a styrofoam processing facility located right in their local community.
They are also donating all of the spirits needed to a local Vancouver Island brewery's 'Blue Friday' initiative, located in Victoria, where their Forget The Foam cocktail will also see proceeds donated to the cause.
“This alternative approach is a great way to change the conversation surrounding mass consumerism, disrupt the norm and create change for the future.”
Tortuga Creative Studio is on a mission to supercharge the brands leading the way to a better future for our oceans. Combining brand consulting and ocean-forward thinking, they support ocean-focused entrepreneurs in creating the future they dream of for themselves and the oceans.
As a company, they have fully dedicated themselves to helping the oceans. For the last four years, they’ve been a business member of 1% for the Planet and recently became a business member of Give Back Great Lakes, where they plan to focus on supporting organisations that raise awareness of the implications of freshwater pollution on ocean health.
For Black Friday this year, they’re focusing on creating a better future for the oceans instead of discounting their services or pushing sales.
Instead of focusing on sales, Tortuga asks business owners to sit down and do a 30-minute online interview. These research interviews will concentrate on ocean-focused entrepreneurs' challenges to help Tortuga figure out how they can create a better service that helps move the oceans forward and supports what these businesses need.
They’ll rescue 100 ocean-bound plastic bottles for every interview they book through their Greenspark account. interview they book, they’ll rescue 100 ocean-bound plastic bottles through their Greenspark account.
“We've chosen this approach for Black Friday because we believe it's time to focus more on the future of our oceans and less on the immediate rewards of the present. Black Friday is all about instant gratification at the expense of our oceans, and we want to shift the focus. Instead of feeling the excitement of making a new purchase, we want others to focus on the excitement that comes from a great conversation, to feel the promise that comes from the opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about the oceans and to feel hope around the potential that the future of our oceans holds.”
While companies may worry that focusing on the environment this Black Friday might not help boost sales, a more environmentally positive approach might not just be good for the planet; it could drive your metrics northwards.
Consumers are actively searching for companies with more sustainable values. Furthermore, evidence shows that as many as 34% of consumers are going as far as cutting ties altogether with businesses that don't integrate sustainable practices into their operations.
Seeing these rapidly shifting consumer trends is incredibly positive, showing that sustainability is becoming increasingly important to shoppers and businesses alike.
We’re super proud of our community for finding alternative ways to promote a more Earth-positive Black Friday, and we’re overjoyed to be included in their plans.