Black Friday is arguably one of the largest shopping days of the calendar year. According to many articles and historians, it’s a day directly after Thanksgiving in United States of America (USA). However, it has now morphed into a yearly shopping spree tradition worldwide. Retailers promote goods and services at ridiculously discount rates for consumers who are looking for the ultimate end-of-year bargain.
In our recent article ‘Is your packaging ready for the silly season?’, we highlight just how crazy Black Friday and other end-of-year sales are. Due to these, retailers see a spike in consumer spending behaviour and the effect packaging has.
What we’d like to share in this week’s blog is how can you, “the consumer”, could become more sustainable.
After all, if we are expecting brands and retailers to be more sustainable, surely it’s a two way street?
In fact let me rephrase that, it is a two-way street!
So here are three ways you can become more sustainable during this Black Friday (and all the other holiday sales).
First Way – Ask yourself do you really need it?
Okay, this seems like an obvious question right? But how often have we bought something thinking we definitely need that. Then a few days later it sits in the “never to be used” pile?
I’m sure we have all been guilty of this.
Black Friday sales, and other end of year sales, are not only targeting our wallets, but our inability to separate needs vs. wants. Especially when we see a bright-coloured 80% sale in the window!
One way to not fall into the marketing trap is to pause and really think hard about the need you believe you are addressing.
For example, you see a toaster on sale and it’s 80% off. You love the look of it and all the features that it comes with.
PAUSE and ask yourself:
Do have a toaster?
Is it working fine?
Will I regret buying this toaster?
If you answered yes to the first 2 questions, then you don’t need a toaster. Its a want, not a need. If you answered yes to the last question, just move on.
Second Way – Make a plan of what you want to buy when you go shopping.
This tip is probably an extension of the first. Making a plan when you go shopping on the busiest time of the shopping calendar will go a long way.
Knowing what you are looking for and why, will create clarity and improve your decision making process. As noted on the first point, we are typically battling our wallets, but also our own emotions.
So, a plan simply helps keep us on track. Think of your plan like using Google Maps when trying to get to a destination. You don’t want to be zig zagging around town, getting stuck in avoidable traffic, just to get from Point A to Point B. A shopping plan stops you from zig zagging into shops, and getting stuck buying things you don’t necessarily need.
Third Way – Don’t be afraid to return it
This feels counter-intuitive given points 1 and 2. However, if we do fall into the trap of buying something we don’t need, then try returning it. Most retailers have reasonable return policies as long as the product is in the same condition, and you have a receipt.
By doing this, you eliminate the “thing” you just bought falling into the category of “gathering dust” and eventually being thrown away.
You are better to return it when it still has its original value, then hang on to it, never to be used.
Better yet, if you can’t return it, why not donate it or sell it.
Fourth way – Remember to recycle your packaging
Whether you are buying a gift for yourself or receiving a gift, it is easy to scrunch everything into one ball and throw it into the general waste bins.
Nowadays, most packaging is starting to create clear guides on what to do with the various packaging materials that come off a product. The Australian Recycling Label (ARL) system is a great way to help consumers separate and dispose of the various packaging materials into the right waste streams.
Fifth Way – Try Giving a Gift with Impact or Choice
As we continue to be more conscious about our environmental impact, why not purchase a gift that aligns with that shift?
If you are not 110% sure of the product you are buying for someone, then why not give them the gift of choice? That way, the receiver can choose a gift that suits them, rather than receiving a gift they may not want, or dear I say, fall into the category of “gathering dust”.
There are awesome organisations promoting this approach like ‘With Impact‘. An organisation empowering recipients to choose their own gifts from sustainable brands, or options to donate their gift to worthy charities.
Another is the lovely group at ‘The Good Registry‘ who have an option to create a registry to help celebrate important moments with donations to good causes.
To conclude, make sure you take time to ask yourself if you really need the product, plan ahead, and if you realise you don’t need it, then return it. When unpacking your products be sure to recycle the packaging in the right waste streams. Finally, think about other ways to buy gifts for friends and family like a gift card or an option to donate to charity.
The reality is, it’s getting harder and harder to escape the Black Friday sales and other end of year sales that follow. Making a few conscious decisions before we purchase can make a difference not only to your wallet but to the environment as well.
Till next time,
The Hi-Tech Packaging Team