On Sept. 24, 1869, the first Black Friday came to inception. While it’s a tradition better known for intense retail indulgence and public frenzy, it was originally designed in response to severe financial decline brought about by Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk. Hoping to skyrocket the price of gold in exchange for immense profit, the duo’s dreams quickly backfired once their scandal was revealed, putting thousands of Americans at risk of complete bankruptcy.
Although the holiday has ironically transformed into a major capitalist venture, racking a whopping $9.2 billion in sales just this year, according to Adobe Analytics, it is no surprise that by participating, there comes equally severe ramifications to the planet.
It is blissful to believe that overconsumption and capitalism are not direct causes of climate change, but it would be dangerous to assume that such a reality does not already exist. In 2021 alone, the Dirty Delivery Report estimated that Black Friday produced around 386,243 tons of carbon emissions and that 80% of textiles and plastics purchased ended up sitting in landfills or being incinerated. It’s easier to believe that our impulse packages from Amazon are no big deal, but in thoughtlessly fueling this degrading agenda, we are dismissing an active climate crisis unfolding right before us.
Opposed to Black Friday, consumers are now proposing “Green Friday,” an alternative proposition which aims to constrict dangerous consumerism by allocating energy and resources towards limiting global waste.
Environmentalists recommend that consumers shop smaller, slower and smarter rather than on impulsive groupthink, which causes many to dismiss any possible consequences of hasty shopping. In fact, the reason carbon emissions increased exponentially after the boom of the industrial era is because people began consuming based solely on desire rather than need. Take a look at fast fashion. Individuals in the ‘80s used to buy about 25 articles of clothing annually, but today, individuals purchase about 75 articles of clothing annually — triple the original amount. And while you think you may need a new iPhone or TV, the irresponsible consumption of these electronic devices is only compensated by the small 29% that are actually recycled.
Don’t be misconstrued however, I am not saying that regular Samaritans are to blame for global warming. But by supporting brands that maliciously decline accountability of their own carbon footprint, you are enabling them to believe that their audience will follow regardless of the consequences.
For years, corporations have attempted to blame regular humans for climate change in order to deflect responsibility from themselves, but the narrative that they attempt to pass off is as you probably guessed, untrue.
While humans should consume more sustainability, it is billionaires and capitalistic elites that are largely at fault.
In a 2020 report conducted by the Stockholm Environmental Institute, between 1990 and 2015, the world’s richest 10% of individuals were responsible for 52% of cumulative carbon emissions, depleting the total global carbon budget by nearly a third in just 25 years. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest 50% of individuals were only responsible for 7% of cumulative emissions, far less than the world’s richest 5% of individuals as well as the world’s richest 1% of individuals.
Even if individuals recycled, had electric cars and did everything as they were supposed to, individual efforts still wouldn’t be enough to combat the hundreds of corporations who have made up 71% of the globe’s total carbon emissions since 1988.
Look at Amazon, for example. According to Amazon’s 2021 sustainability report, the company pledged to reduce just 50% of their shipments to net zero carbon emissions by 2030; but in the same year, Amazon’s emissions grew by an unfortunate 18% despite promising to use complete renewable energy by 2025 — five years sooner than their original goal.
Though the company markets itself as an ally for environmental change, Amazon’s current practices directly contradict their alleged sustainability goals, including their infamous prime shipping which greatly contributes to spikes in higher carbon emissions due to its self-serving swiftness. Just last year in 2021, Amazon produced over 71 million metric tons of carbon waste due to their current practices.
In the end, methods of short-term satisfaction will only continue to kill us if we do not break free of capitalistic chains and the subjugation of corporate malpractices. Achieving true environmental restoration will take a global army, but it is a challenge we must run at with full force.
I’m not saying you can’t indulge once in a while, but falsely-marketed holidays like Black Friday are required to be approached by informed strategy. So if you do decide to participate, whether this year or in years to come, shop intelligently and intentionally with Mother Earth in mind.