The shopping day of the year is nearly upon us, Black Friday! A tradition born in America marking the beginning of the Christmas period, it has gained popularity in the UK as the prime day for scoring Christmas present deals. While you may love to grab a bargain, the amount of plastic waste linked to this single day might surprise you.
The environmental cost…
Over the past few years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have proven to be chaotic and expensive with people in the UK spending billions on discounted products.
Although our shopping habits are starting to shift, as evidenced by a 20% higher footfall on the local high street in January 2023 compared to January 2022, the concerning figures persist. Ordering products online automatically translates to more packaging for secure delivery, with consequences for the environment.
It is no secret the damaging effects that plastic waste has on the world; so let us look at the facts…
- Over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the 1950’s
- Every year plastic waste is the cause of over 1 million animal deaths around the world
- Plastic is an illegal material in Kenya. The production, selling and use of plastic can result in up to 4 years imprisonment, or a substantial fine!
- Around the world, 1 million bottles are bought every single minute!
- It is estimated that the rate of plastic production and its use, by 2050 there will be more plastic waste in the oceans than fish
- Plastic microparticles have been found in the flesh of fish across all oceans; fish that is being consumed by humans
- Perhaps more shockingly, the effects of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), nicknamed the forever chemical are now being uncovered. It’s found in practically all water supplies worldwide
The impact on the environment isn’t limited to plastic waste; large warehouses needed to store online-ordered products contribute to higher emissions than shopping in stores. Last year alone, over 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were released during the week of Black Friday, a staggering 94% higher than an average week.
Plastic waste: what can we do?
High street shopping reduces unnecessary plastic packaging and will help to keep our much-loved shops open, consider visiting your local town before being tempted online. While it’s also up to retailers to make changes, as consumers, we can try to consume less and only shop with retailers using environmentally friendly packaging where possible.