The festive season is finally here and the next Friday is the Black Friday everyone loves. It might be difficult to see past the excitement of being offered huge discounts. It’s seductive but it is nothing more than an unofficial holiday that celebrates consumerism. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which happens on the following Monday) are one of the most profitable times of the year for retailers. They are the time of year that the fashion industry encourages hyper-consumption with heavily-discounted marketing which leads people into buying things they don’t need just for the safe of a bargain. It generates huge volumes of waste as items are returned or thrown away after a short period of time, contributing to throw-away culture.
In 2017 European retailers experienced a 261% increase in turnover on Black Friday compared to an average day. Last year saw brands offering huge discounts to get rid of the mountains of unsold stock left from the global pandemic when physical stores were forced to be closed for months. As a result, consumers spent $9 billion online shopping during Black Friday in 2020, making last year’s the most polluting ever.
Overconsumption also has an enormous human toll especially when items bought are from fast fashion and unethical brands, perpetuating unsafe working conditions, extreme poverty, and political instability/war in producing countries.
In the UK alone, Black Friday 2020 emitted 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – that’s equivalent to 435 return flights from London to New York.
The promise of free shipping or returns on fashion retail sites has long been the norm, but what is commonly touted as “free” is far from free when you consider the environmental cost. Online orders of clothes and shoes typically have an online return rate of 30 to 40% (compared to 5 to 10% of in-store purchases) which creates extra carbon emission by sending an item from a warehouse to the customer, then the other way around. The environmental cost of transporting just one item using a courier is 181g of CO2. In the UK alone, Black Friday 2020 emitted 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – that’s equivalent to 435 return flights from London to New York.
To make it worse, the majority of brands send returned items straight to landfill or incineration. Luxury brands, for example, has been criticised for throwing deadstocks and returned items away to avoid risk damaging the prestige of their brand by selling at a discount. While all customers certainly have the right to return an item that isn’t suitable for them, that doesn’t mean that the industry should encourage the harmful practice of excessive returns and consumers shouldn’t abuse the system by buying items knowing that they will be returned surely.
Another issue is that e-commerce giants with $1 billion annual sales perform better than smaller shops during Black Friday. In 2019, while 93.2 million consumers made a purchase online on Black Friday, Amazon counted for 50.9% of all sales on Black Friday in the U.S. And while smaller online retailers have only seen a 27% growth, online giants have seen a 62% boost in sales.
Perhaps things are starting to look better, though. With all the climate change protests and the declaration of climate change emergencies by countries around the world, consumers are starting to re-evaluate their shopping habits. According to new research, 67% of UK consumers are going to pay attention to the sustainability efforts of retail brands during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping. And 78% of UK shoppers stated that whether or not brands clearly communicate their sustainability efforts will have “somewhat” of an impact over where they will shop, and 47% stated that they aren’t planning to spend during the Black Friday weekend.
Black Friday at l’amour est bleu
As a sustainable brand, we believe we must approach things differently and encourage people to shop and consume fashion locally and sustainably. We want people to know that every one of your mindful purchases can create a great impact on the community and the environment.
By buying a sustainable item from a local, actually sustainable brand (instead of buying clothes from “conscious collection” from H&M), you can empower the people in the supply chain, minimise the environmental harm, support local, independent businesses while keeping the money within your community or region, instead of giving the profit to multi-national companies abroad, and there are more positive impacts that could be generated by a single mindful purchase. It is truly amazing to see so much positive change on the horizon.
On Black Friday this year, we decided to sell returned items and samples at a discounted price. Doing so allows us to avoid wasting returned items, all these items required natural and human resources to be produced and we want them to be worn and enjoyed by our customers. And we trust our customers will cherish our garments that are sewn by seamstresses in Berlin from sustainable materials as well as make them last.
And please keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong to purchase a sustainable item you have been wanting and waiting for to be on sale, however, it’s problematic to purchase unsustainable items, especially from fast-fashion retailers, just because it’s on sale.
To shop our ARCHIVE SALE, you will need to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the acces link. You can subscribe for the newsletter here: https://lamourestbleu.com.
Also, if you’d like to learn more about the environmental impact of online shopping, check out our blog post here.