Holiday shopping creates a staggering amount of waste. Up to 80% of Black Friday purchases and packaging will end up in a landfill, incinerated or as low-quality recycling. And all that waste is just a small fraction of the problem. 95% of a product’s environmental impact happens before you open the package (think of the energy needed to mine resources, produce the product, ship it around the world etc). That’s why buying used instead of new, especially around the holidays when consumption is at an all time high, is so impactful.
Here are 10 tips to help you celebrate a Zero Waste Black Friday.
1: Shop at Local Thrift Shops
The most convenient way to shop zero waste is to visit local thrift shops for your holiday shopping. Not only will you be saving all the emissions that go into producing news stuff, but you’ll also help divert waste from landfills—thrift stores generally receive more donations than they can sell. If you’re located in Ann Arbor , Ypsilanti or London , check out our city maps for our favorite spots to shop. Many of them have Black Friday discounts.
2: Shop online zero waste
If you’d prefer to shop online, you can check out second hand sites like Craigslist , Facebook Marketplace, Ebay , Poshmark and Mercari . Shopping used is almost always going to save you a significant amount of money and you’ll be helping divert things someone else doesn’t need from the landfill (and using your money to support individuals rather than corporations). If the item you want isn’t available for pickup and needs to be shipped, you can write a message like this to the seller:
3: Get Stuff from Your Neighbors
If you have a specific item in mind, request it on your local Buy Nothing Group , on Nextdoor … you never know, a neighbor might have that item lying around gathering dust! And you’d be surprised by the types of things people are willing to part with! There’s often free stuff on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Freecycle as well.
4: Buy Experiences
Gifts don’t have to be material possessions. In fact, a lot of people have too much stuff and appreciate receiving gifts that are experiences. Plus, if it’s an experience you can do together, you’ll create beautiful memories together and deepen your relationship. Many places that offer experiences (massage parlors, theaters, dance studios etc) have Black Friday deals, so take advantage and get some of your holiday shopping done!
5: Buy Gift Cards to Local Businesses
Instead of buying more stuff, you could take the day to declutter and get rid of stuff you don’t need. It’s going to feel so great going into the holidays and the new year with a bit more breathing room and a fresh start. If you need extra cash, you can sell your things online (see #2) above for ideas). If you just want to get rid of stuff quickly, you can post it for free in your local Buy Nothing Group , on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, or donate it to a local thrift shop.
7: Spend Time in Nature
You could also take the day to spend some time unplugged and in nature. Step away from the hyper-consumerism and temptation of Black Friday and go for a nice walk and reflect on what’s truly important to you.
8: Plant a Tree
To counteract the massive environmental destruction on Black Friday, do something positive and plant a tree through an organization like One Tree Planted . You can even plant trees in someone’s name and give them as gifts!
If you have the day off today, sign up to volunteer in your community, or if you can’t find any opportunities locally, do something kind for a neighbor or a friend. If you’d like to get more involved with Live Zero Waste you can sign up here!
10: Watch a Documentary
Take this day to learn more about the environmental crisis and recommit to why you’re doing zero waste in the first place. A Plastic Ocean , Plastic Island and Kiss the Ground are good options! All available on netflix.