Everything we buy doesn't just cost money, it costs the environment too. This depends on how our items are made, the materials our items are made from, how far it's been transported and what happens to them at the end of their life. Then there is the long-lasting impact of the pollution caused by the manufacturing process and leftover waste, carbon emitted and water utilized.
Access to cheap, instant items exuberate all of the above. When things are cheap we spend much less time debating on their purchase and even less time worrying how long they last or how well we look after them, as after all, they are so cheap and easy to simply replace.
So whilst big events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great times to take advantage of discounts, it goes against both a sustainable business model and a sustainable lifestyle.
On the one hand, retailers are increasingly talking about sustainability and all the positive environmental changes they’re making such as going net-zero, plastic-free packaging etc but, on the other hand, they’re encouraging people to continue consuming unnecessary items. Consumers are stuck in the middle.
Deep discounts communicate the product’s environmental cost and worth
Most items, no matter how big and small go through a damaging environmental process along each of these stages:
- Production of items and the source and trade of materials used
- Packaging of the item plus added packaging used for shipping
- Pollution and traffic caused by delivery of the item
- Waste of products when the consumer is finished
When you break it down, it’s easier to see the footprint of every single item. So whilst we only see shiny new items wrapped in powerful and manipulative marketing, their journey, existence, and impact exist before they arrive in our shopping carts. Most usually, they will always outlive us, ending up in our oceans or buried underground.
When cheap items have their place
For people who don't have purchasing power, the ability to be able to buy something that is a necessity at a discounted price is a clear benefit. Not all families and individuals can afford reliable footwear or food for example.
However, the majority of residents living in the UK already have more than enough, so giving into Black Friday deals and heavily discounted items perpetuat es a consumption-oriented society, manifesting our adverse effect on the environment.
We’re being manipulated
The problem is many of us are aware of the costs of our cheap clothes and tech. So why can’t we stop being pulled into these deals and sales? Because marketers know how to manipulate you.
Events like Black Friday create a sense of urgency in consumers’ minds. They plot phrases all over their stores and web pages such as “limited time only” and "while stocks last" and some events use massive countdown timers on their pages which you can’t switch off. This is called the scarcity principle and is designed to hit the consumers’ weak spot: the need to maximise gains and/or minimise losses.
Psychologists have also documented the pleasure associated with finding a great deal. Both these things combined drive us to impulse buying.
Don't worry, here are some solutions
- Thinking long-term is one of the simplest ways to start purchasing more sustainability. Will you really need this item after 6 months? What is the likelihood of it getting misused, abandoned or broken between now and the next Black Friday?
- Enjoy second hand. With apps like Vinted and GumTree alongside charity and upcycling shops, it’s so easy to achieve the same sense of achievement - items are a one-off and you really are finding a bargain as prices are much lower than new. There are also tons of small businesses recycling items into beautiful plant pots, handbags and jewellery - keeping items out of the landfill.
- Gifting experiences or your skills and time is another intimate way to replace items.
- Plan ahead for shopping trips. Take your own reusable bags and coffee flasks and avoid rushed meal deals over the counter to reduce your litter and impact on the day.
- Ditch the shiny wrapping paper and swap for attractive and reusable cloths. Check out our blog to see how to wrap up items with a cloth . We’ve also got some other plastic-free simple examples to inspire you here.
- Go to less and higher quality consumption. These will last longer and are produced in a more sustainable way, both when it comes to environmental implications as well as the quality of jobs along global value chains.
- Look for companies with green initiatives (which could include anything from recyclable packaging to carbon offsetting and certifications like Fair Trade, Vegan and Cruelty-free).
- Don’t rush your delivery slots. Choosing the standard shipping option will guarantee a save on fuel emissions as your parcel will be delivered as part of a regular delivery round, as opposed to a unique and excessive one that emits extra carbon.
- Support companies that offer a good price all year round. This is our ethos at KiteNest. We're passionate about making plastic-free and low-waste products as affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. So we keep our rates the lowest we possibly can, ALL year-round. Whilst ensuring that your products are high-quality, they won't break or snap. You'll love your product so much you will use the whole thing. Our packaging also enables you to access and use 100% of your product.