Black Friday might be an adopted tradition from America, but it has rooted in our culture with a distinctly British twist – everyone complains about it, but then we still scroll deals online and end up spending lots on items with ‘manufactured’ discounts.
It has been estimated that on Black Friday alone last year Brits spent 7.3% more than the year before, totalling at £1.49bn. It’s no longer a one-day sales event, it is more accurate to say that the entire month of November is dedicated to deals that reach the pinnacle on Black Friday, so the actual spend is astronomical.
Consumer electronics like phones, TVs, laptops, smart home appliances and gadgets will once again dominate shopping baskets online and in store this year, but with so many offers on the table and tempting marketing messages with huge percentage off labels, it can be hard to ask yourself, "why?" before you buy.
Behind the Black Friday curtain
This shopping event has taken UK and the rest of the world by storm and is a great way to do your Christmas shopping, especially if your wishlist includes tech items. Being a savvy-shopper is a good thing, but it can be easy to grab items that you will regret later and stockpile at home.
The tech we buy, for example phones, is built from a long list of raw materials mined on the other side of the world and sadly, manufacturing processes cross the sustainable line creating more emissions than the product will emit during its useful life. The connection between the planet and tech production might not be immediately obvious, but using and choosing environmentally conscious smartphones is a great way to reduce emissions and money at the same time. All it takes to establish a mindful tech shopping habit is to ask yourself the question: "What impact is this having on the environment?" more often.
Green-over this Black Friday by joining Green Tuesday initiative
With every unboxing of a brand-new gadget, there’s an older piece of tech being replaced and hoarded in UK homes. In fact, a recent survey carried out by the Royal Society of Chemistry found that UK households hoard millions of unused electronic devices, and 23% of people surveyed have a mobile phone sitting idle somewhere in their home. Instead of relegating your old mobile to your junk drawer, or worse sending it to landfill, think green and get involved this upcoming Green Tuesday which is on 3rd of December - a tradition that follows the Black Friday weekend and encourages electronics recycling and decluttering. Green Tuesday is your small-step-big-difference approach to tackle the growing mountains of discarded devices, recoup some of your spend, offset your carbon footprint and just be kinder to the planet.
Should we avoid the Black Friday deal altogether?
If promotional emails with BLACK FRIDAY IS NOW ON written all over it or all sorts pop up ads and banners grab your attention, it can be very easy to fall for those sale tactics. But just think for a second if any of the tech you have your eye on is worth it if the item you currently own is perfectly fine and works as it should?
Exactly! So with Black Friday on the horizon, here are a few habits you should consider taking on:
Ask Yourself Why Before You Buy
Even though tech items might be on offer, the purchase will set you back quite a bit and more importantly the hidden environmental cost is far greater than you think. So if there’s no genuine need for a new phone or tablet, keep the one you already have.
One of the biggest changes you can make this Black Friday is to shop refurbished gadgets. Amazon and other retailers have their own ranges of refurbished smartphones and tablets which are almost identical to brand new devices, but they have a smaller carbon footprint and lower price tag. Certified refurbished electronics retailers will have their own deals going on so it is definitely a green way to bag yourself a tech bargain.
Do Not Waste Your Old Gadget Away
All those gadgets we replace get left in a drawer with a feeble excuse that they might be used one day - but chances are you will not. Even worse, they can end up on a landfill site releasing hazardous materials that will pollute soil and water and sitting in a drawer they lose their monetary value every day. Instead, choose to recycle your unwanted phones, tablets and other electronics this Green Tuesday. This is something our planet and your bank account will thank you for.
Greener Hacks When Buying New
Everyone is different and maybe the second-hand market is not an appealing option for you, but do not let this deter you from shopping for tech in a greener way:
Choose a Low-carbon Internal Storage Capacity
Higher storage capacities are one of the reasons devices have higher carbon footprint, because the more memory is built-in the more integrated circuits are required. The difference is not only emissions related. Models with higher capacities are also the most expensive in product line-ups.
Smaller Device, Fewer Resources
From Apple’s environmental reports, we know that it takes more resources to manufacture bigger devices and it generates more emissions too, so go for a basic model when buying a new phone.
Choose a Phone That Will Last
Slim, all-glass phones have a premium feel and look stunning, but they are not very practical. Avoid slippery finishes and remember if you want to have a long relationship with your phone without any damage, a nice grip is a must-have.
Avoid Next-day Deliveries and Purchase Multiple Items at Once
Next-day or two-day deliveries mean that companies do not have as much time to organise the efficient transportation of multiple items. There may be more trips for less cargo and items may even have to be flown into the UK from another country to arrive in time. Also, try and organise your purchases in less orders as they can be grouped and delivered together. All of these variables make CO2 levels significantly rise.
If a product has your interest piqued, try finding the same one in stock at local retailers. While your items will still need to be delivered, they will not have to go as far, plus they are unlikely to need to be flown to reach your doorstep.
The majority of our environmental problems are rooted in our levels of consumption and throw-away mindedness. We shouldn't let things get worse leading to enforced consumption policies that will be painful to take in. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already kicking off, we have to remember to be mindful. Green Tuesday isn't about changing your consumer behaviour just for one day - it's about striving for a more sustainable relationship with our tech and adopting a mindful habit of giving your unwanted tech a chance to be refurbished and reused or recycled. Green Tuesday is about making a commitment to shopping for tech on Black Friday with less impact on the environment and being more responsible with what you no longer find useful for yourself. So if you have found a bargain for yourself, don't miss Green Tuesday on 3rd of December to return the tech you're replacing.