Black Friday: A Black Day for the Environment?

Black Friday, which takes place on the last Friday of November every year, marks the start of the Christmas shopping season across Europe. For both traditional and online shops, this is one of the most important dates of the year in terms of sales.

Here we look at whether Black Friday offers are really worth it. Or whether there might be shopping alternatives that are ultimately better for the environment and for your pocket, too. 

Bargain hunting and sustainability are not incompatible.

Alternatives to Black Friday and Cyber Monday were promoted in the last few years as many shops throughout Europe and the world opted for “#GreenFriday”, a more environmentally friendly shopping experience. Companies donated part of their profits to environmental projects or paid compensated carbon emissions involved in the production and shipping of products for sale. In Ireland, initiatives such as “#ChampionGreen” and “#GreenFridayIreland” have become prominent over the last few years.

The so-called “#BuyNothingDay” also aims to question one’s shopping habits and encourages people to reduce their consumption on the biggest day of the shopping calendar. “#Buyback Friday” and “#GreenSunday” focus on second-hand goods. Buying vintage extends a product’s life, saves natural resources and quite a bit of money all around.

As we’ve mentioned in our Smart Tips for Shopping in the Sales, “Don’t let the lure of a huge discount make you buy what is ultimately a poor-value product. Superior quality products will also be more sustainable and durable, and often come with extended warranty/guarantee which means you are ultimately getting more out of your purchase.”

Make sure you are really getting a deal.

Customers in Europe should be careful when it comes to discounts offered on #BlackFriday or #CyberMonday 2021. Some offers may appear golden, but some are really not. Many shops refer to the recommended retail price (RRP) for the discounts they offer. But, even before applying the Black Friday deals, the RRP does not correspond to the actual market price. Raising consumers’ expectations about ever-better, ever-greater discounts and creating a sense of urgency about getting their hand on very limited stock increases pressure on purchasing decision-making.

Read The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s guide of advertising here to learn more.


Our tips for a sustainable shopping experience.

  • Avoid impulse buying: make a shopping list with only things you really need; this will help avoid unnecessary deliveries and returns.
  • Create a targeted product selection/wishlist: bookmark items you really want and monitor price changes in the promotion period.
  • Shop around and compare prices for the same product from various retailers and between traditional and online shops, too.
  • Choose sustainable shipping that uses eco-friendly/less/recycled packaging, paperless receipts and offers set rather than on-demand delivery dates.
  • Group your purchases and deliveries so that you receive them at the same time and thus eliminate several courier trips to the same address.