Black Friday discounts have a hidden cost to our planet

November 22, 2023

Heavily promoted discounts can encourage consumers to buy products purely because they’re on sale, with little regard for whether the purchased item is actually needed or not. When faced with a bargain, only 1 person in 4 considers the environmental impact of their purchases.

Online deliveries in the UK from Black Friday sales contribute in the region of 429,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year (source).

It’s estimated that 1 in 3 consumers go on to return their Black Friday impulse buys within 30 days of purchase, and around 30 million items will be returned this Black Friday. Each return represents the release of additional greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, as well as the waste of the packaging, and often the returned product too as many items are not subsequently re-sold.

The products bought during Black Friday often have a very short life, and it’s estimated that up to 80% of products bought ultimately end up in landfill, are incinerated, or are recycled poorly (source).

To reduce the environmental impact of Black Friday you could:

  • Avoid all unnecessary purchases
  • Check what you’ve already got to avoid duplication

A bedroom strewn with clothing on the floor and bed. Text over the image reads "Black Friday buyers regret?"An wardrobe overfull with clothing. Text over the image reads "Black Friday, You already look great!".

An old fashioned bulky CRT television dumped on top of a black wheeled bin on a street. Text over the image reads "Black Friday. Upgraded recently? Please recycle your unwanted electricals responsibly".

  • Choose to buy pre-loved rather than new items if it’s an option
  • Choose products that are long lasting, and have a low environmental footprint
  • Do some research and choose online retailers that use more sustainable delivery methods, or buy locally from a physical shop
  • Choose retailers that use minimal and easily recyclable packaging
  • Combine deliveries to reduce emissions from transportation and the amount of packaging materials needed
  • Recycle or dispose of packaging responsibly if you can’t reuse it for something else

A cardboard box on a doostep. Text over the image reads " Black Friday. Expecting a delivery? Please recycle the packaging".

A washing machine on a pavement with angel wings. Text on the image reads, "Black Friday. Replaced a still functioning item? Your old one could help someone else."

A washing machine on the street outside a house with other rubbish. Text on the image reads " Wont fit in the Car? Contact your local council to arrange a bulky collection".