The True Cost of Black Friday

Photo-illustration: Unsplash (Ashkan Forouzani)

The end of the year is near: a change in seasons and celebrations of traditional holidays around the world. For many, that means an increase in consumption habits. Big brands sit back and wait for consumers to think they are making a smart decision just because the price is low, forgetting that the lower the discount, the lower price put on the planet.

Black Friday, Singles Day and Cyber Monday represent peak consumption in the consumerist societies we live in. A system that particularly powers up in cities: as of today, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this number is expected to increase to almost 70 percent by 2050 and consumption in cities (directly and indirectly) causes 70 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

But not just average consumers get carried away, governments themselves also promote the idea that consumerism is a solution to the COVID-19 economic crisis. The past year accelerated the e-commerce trend. Globally, retail websites generated nearly 22 billion visits in June 2020, up from 16 billion global visits in January 2020.

Consuming less and better needs to be at the heart of consumption reframing. The GHG emissions in the world’s largest cities alone generate as much as 60 percent higher emissions than previously estimated when also accounting for the impact of trade in goods and services between cities and the rest of the world. As cities continue to grow, so will these numbers. This means that cities and their citizens must be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the climate emergency and economic crisis that the world is experiencing and to achieve that, a change must be made in our consumption habits.

Before buying, analyse your purchase. Rapid shipments, excessive packaging, and polluting transport make the e-commerce sector a high-carbon emitter. Producing and manufacturing goods and services and their distribution requires the extraction of natural resources and releases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. When products reach shops, they already account for a large environmental and carbon footprint, which we could help address by consuming less and better.

Source: Greenpeace