The hidden
digital
impact of
Black
Friday.

The hidden digital impact of Black Friday.

This Black Friday we’re shutting down our website. Instead of joining the madness, we suggest we should try and do something that helps our planet. Don’t scroll, don’t search, don’t buy. Don’t get sucked into the lunacy that’s destroying us all.

Stop Black Friday.
Long live Green Friday.

There is an Afterlife

- Sir John Hegarty for Roscomar

The facts:

- The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, which is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally. These emissions are predicted to double by 2025.

- Data centers alone account for about 1% of global energy demand, which is more than the energy consumption of many countries.

- Promotional activities also drive greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon footprint of sending an email can vary from 0.3g CO2e for a spam email to 4g CO2e for a regular email and 50g CO2e for one with a photo or hefty attachment.

- Traffic to the top 100 shopping sites increased by 137% on Black Friday (as of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year).

- On Black Friday 2020 online shoppers topped 100 million for the first time.

- It is estimated that if current pandemic-fuelled digital behavior continues, the world could see an additional 34 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in coming years.

- Several academic studies in recent years have demonstrated a correlation between excessive screen time and mental illness including depression and anxiety.

The Insights:

“To be honest, my general awareness around online consumer activity was quite low prior to the pandemic. I’ve always tended to prefer online shopping than physical retail, but never truly understood the frequency or scale at which we were collectively shopping online.

During the peak of the pandemic when we first started seeing huge delays in postage, especially with Royal Mail, I saw a lot more people talking about their online shopping habits, most of which were unsurprisingly out of boredom.

What I didn’t expect was how much growth so many brands would experience due to the high levels of online consumption during lockdowns. That really took me by surprise.

Since then, I’ve tried to take an active interest in online consumer habits, and it’s pretty staggering when you take a step back. The build-up to Black Friday has shown that the “changing consumer behaviour” that was such a hot topic last year is a bit of a myth.

No one considers the impact of always being online, shipping out orders, returning them, and repeating.

The statistics really put it into perspective. I think the biggest change anyone can make is to first of all shop smarter. Buy quality, purposeful product and use sizing tools and references to avoid multiple orders and returns if possible. This is something I’ve been trying to do. It gets a lot easier if you’re willing to invest more in less to ensure you’re buying lasting, functional products.”

- Sam Cole, HIGHSNOBIETY

“Unfortunately, I am acutely aware of how destructive these types of promotions really are. I think it punctuates the blissful ignorance that many participants in hype culture have embraced and accepted, but I'm optimistic that it can, and will change. Eventually, what's cool will once again become about originality. What could be less original than shopping when someone tells you to. In addition, I hope consumers take inventory on what stores and brands participate in Black Friday sales and promotions, but also claim to care about the planet on Earth Day. I think the immaturity and overconsumption traits of hype culture are starting to evolve and ideally the community will choose to support the brands and designers who care less about profit and gross negligence and more about our responsibility to the planet and future generations.”

- Daniel Navetta, FUTUREVVORLD

“I wasn't aware of the impact of digital activity around Black Friday on the environment and I'm shook to read these stats! I feel like Black Friday blew over to Europe from the US a few years ago and it's getting bigger every year now. Personally, I'm not too sensitive for all these 'deals' and I don't want to support over consuming so I'm not taking on any brand partnerships/collaborations around Black Friday for example.

I'm easily over stimulated when it comes to newsletters/emails etc and because my work email is public and to be found on my social pages I often got signed up to newsletters that I didn't even sign up for myself. A couple of years ago I discovered an application called unroll.me which helps you organize your email subscriptions. Which is really helpful for me as it puts all the newsletters and subscriptions into one email a day for you. helps me keep an overview in my inbox and it lets you unsubscribe easily. After reading these stats I might need to review my subscriptions again and be extra selective about them.”

- Sanne Poeze, Girl on Kicks

"The degree to which Black Friday damages the environment is frankly terrifying, but it's a symptom of our society's generally unhealthy relationship with consumption.

It's easy to let yourself off the hook by saying that our individual habits won't make a dent, but every collective movement has to start somewhere.

Maybe the place for me to start is to reverse all the steps online retailers have taken to make purchasing easier. Our dramatically reduced attention spans have been weaponized through saved logins, pre-loaded billing details, and one-click purchases. We need more mental and physical barriers to clicking 'buy".

It's ok to like nice things, but shopping shouldn't be a reflex. Less is more."

- Rajat Malhotra, Sole DXB

“Over the past few years, I've become increasingly aware of the implications that come with big sales events. It's so easy to be sucked into the marketing messaging that is splashed across social media and billboards and tv adverts, and just as easy to spend hours scrolling through the continuous sales. Most of the time we do not need any of the products we buy during the black friday sales events but many people fall victim to the imminent christmas festivities as a reason to shop! When reflecting on my shopping behavior it's undeniable that I will also go through waves of: "I need this, if I don't get this someone else will, oh no I spent way more than I was supposed to", it really is a toxic cycle. I will definitely be making more informed, considered decisions when shopping for my christmas gifts- things that are made with quality, that aren’t trend driven, and are more thoughtful than a £5 jacket from a high-street store.

As you said, the impact of sending one email is crazy you would never think such a small action is so damaging for the environment...and to think we have so many spam emails around black Friday, from so many companies I had forgot I even signed up to. I'm also shocked at how our phone usage accounts for just as much greenhouse gas emissions as the airline industry- who would've thought our mobile habits are the same as big fuel guzzling planes.”

- Angelee Kholia, HYPEBEAST & Sheaker magazine

The low impact website:

- Does not load any images before they are actively requested by the user.

- Minimizes the power consumption on the user’s device.

- Adapts to reflect the amount of renewable energy it’s currently running on.

- Informs the user of the impact of their browsing behavior.

- Does not make use of videos.

- Stores data locally on the user’s device to minimize data transfer.

- Compresses all data to the greatest extent possible.

- Loads only the most crucial programming scripts, frameworks, and cookies.

- Limits the amount of light emitted by the screen.

- Optimizes and limits the use of custom fonts.