Think about the environment before you shop

Look for eco-friendly alternatives on Black Friday, holidays


Dana Gaudette

Senior Staff Writer Pranitha Polavarapu writes that shoppers should be eco-conscious for Black Friday and holiday gifts.

Pranitha Polavarapu, Senior Staff Writer

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a celebration of consumerism as retailers, stores and malls love to call it. In 2018 alone, a hundred million Americans went shopping during that weekend (Expanded Ramblings), ambitious for the amazing deals and holiday feel. On a consumer level, that’s a big impact on economy and commerce. What about on an environmental level? A hundred million Americans can make a huge difference either positive or negative on the environment, couldn’t they?

It may not matter as much if a single person brings home 5 to ten plastic bags filled with packaged items that are nonrecyclable; they also drive from store to store, using up a substantial amount of gas. Now multiply that by a hundred million. It is clear that we may be saving on deals but causing a great cost to the environment in turn. Don’t be that person.

The most important thing is to be conscious of where you’re buying from. This year, for holiday presents, consider buying products from local businesses. These items are often more environmentally conscious. A good example would be a thrift, consignment or second-hand store that offers items at lower prices. In regard to transportation, driving to closer stores or a local mall will save on gas. Another tip for being green is carpooling with others to go shopping together.  

Next, be conscious of what you’re buying. You should buy brands that are sustainable and eco-friendly. Green brands support environmental conservation and have sustainable business practices, such as avoiding toxic chemicals and conserving energy. An easy way to find these brands is by looking to see if businesses have partnerships with environmentally afflicted companies. For people interested in buying from the fashion and cosmetics industry, check to see if the brands you’re buying are cruelty-free. This label is used for products that do not harm or kill animals and prevent testing on them. The Green Seal is another example of an ecolabel that means a product is sustainable.

While shopping, also make sure to bring your own bags! If a hundred million Americans are going to stores and using single-use plastic bags, the enormous plastic waste is horrendous. According to Biological Diversity, Americans use up to a hundred billion plastic bags per year. Bring bags that can be used again for each time you shop. Although this seems like a minor move, the contribution is a lot if every American would use their own bags to shop during the Black Friday weekend. 

Furthermore, it is more beneficial to stop returning items back to stores and donate the ones you don’t want. According to CBS News, goods that have been returned back to stores are more than likely to then end up in the landfill. So rather than returning products that you don’t want and hassling the already busy customer service center at the store, donate the items to local charities.

There are also other alternatives to shopping for products that may not even be worth the risk. Instead of getting physical things for each other during the holidays like we are all used to, try gifting experiences like event tickets or memberships. It is also more meaningful and eco-friendly to make your own DIY presents. And what’s more environmentally beneficial than not going shopping at all?  The deals may be great, but in the end, most of us are tempted to buy more than we think we save by going shopping. 

Small efforts like these can have a major impact once everyone joins in. In the long run, you’re contributing to a huge difference. Especially in a large event, the more people join in, the bigger the difference. So make sure to be environmentally conscious while you shop during this Black Friday weekend, so we can celebrate the deals and our environment.