How Black Friday impedes the fight for sustainability
Now all the numbers and figures from Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are in, we can see the impact Black Friday is having on the industry.
This year’s Black Friday was one of the biggest ever, with billions of dollars spent in a day of sales, discounts, and special offers.
But the effects of Black Friday go far beyond the savings to the consumer.
With the rise of Fast Fashion becoming a major environmental sustainability issue, Black Friday is contributing to a system which is already at breaking point.
The origins of Black Friday
Black Friday began in the United States, where the traditional Thanksgiving holiday is held on the third Thursday in November.
Many people also take the next day off work, giving them a four-day weekend, thus labelling that Friday an “unofficial holiday”.
Because so many people were off work, shops began to lower their prices in special sales with the hopes of kick-starting the Christmas period.
These sales began to grow, with different stores trying to “out-do” one another with bargains. Over the years the discounts became bigger and the stores started opening earlier, with some opening at 6pm the night before.
This rampant consumerism eventually evolved into the annual shopping event we now know as Black Friday.
Why Black Friday is damaging to the environment
Black Friday and other similar big event sales are only adding to the problem of environmental damage and the bottom line is the more we buy, the more waste we produce.
We’ve talked before about how the apparel industry is responsible for around 20% of global carbon emissions and how the current model is simply unsustainable.
The damage comes in two parts; production and waste.
The dying of clothes is polluting rivers to the point where they are poisonous to even touch and it takes 10,000 litres of fresh water to make a single pair of jeans.
Add to that the materials and natural resources used for packaging, along with the carbon emissions from transport, and it soon becomes obvious that every step in the process of clothing production is damaging to the environment.
And then there’s what happens after we buy those clothes.
Most of them are dumped after only being worn a few times, with less than 1% of the material used in clothing, recycled into new garments.
It takes 200 years for polyester to decompose, and it’s the same microfibres which account for an astonishing 85% of all man-made debris washed up onshore.
Events like Black Friday encourages people to buy things they don’t need, only to be discarded soon after.
Sustainability is the next battleground for businesses
We buy twice as many clothes as we did a decade ago but only wear them half as long.
Over half of new clothes are thrown out within a year.
A rubbish truck of clothes is burned or landfilled every single second!
It’s facts like these that highlight how the Fast Fashion phenomenon is damaging the environment.
Many designers and retailers are trying to raise awareness of the issue, but the industry overall is still a long way behind.
Sustainability is the next battleground for businesses, but thankfully, the younger generation is very much in tune with environmental issues.
Will Black Friday always be around?
People love a bargain, and for many, Black Friday is one of the few days of the year they can afford something special.
The event is very American, with other countries begrudgingly taking it up in recent years, so whether it will grow into a world-wide event or stay mainly within the USA remains to be seen.
The sale of cheap, disposable clothing does seem to be on the wane, regardless of large sales events. Consumers, designers, and retailers are all waking up to the fact that the current Fast Fashion ethos simply can’t continue. The future is greener, and many companies are already building their brand around sustainability.
With Fast Fashion quickly becoming a dirty word, the textile industry is set to see some of the biggest change of any industry. In the fight to save the planet through sustainability, less will be manufactured, bought and discarded.
The entire production chain, from design and manufacturing through to shipping and disposal will all change dramatically over the next decade, the question is, are you ready for it?
It’s a difficult course to navigate, but not impossible with the right help.
Businesses will need to change with the times or face the inevitable conclusion of going out of business… and businesses are reacting to this change right now, as they strive to work toward becoming environmentally sustainable as a core component of their brand.
Conservationism, recycling, going green… these aren’t simply marketing buzzwords. They are a change in our culture and one which is gaining momentum.
The younger generations are more attuned to environmental issues, and support businesses which are making real efforts to cut down on their carbon footprint and help the planet.
We strongly believe that every aspect of the production chain has to change – from sourcing of raw materials to the shopping habits of consumers.
But no matter what the future holds for the textile and fashion industries, we are committed to helping our clients adapt. We have the experience, skills and staff to help guide your company into a greener, brighter future.
To help your business promote environmental sustainability within the scope of your label and packaging requirements, contact us today. If you think you need advice on the coming changes, let’s have a chat about how we can help you to navigate those changes.