A “green” Black Friday isn’t just about deals and profits. Earth-friendlier shopping may only make a small dent in consumerism, but it’s a lasting trend that grows each holiday season, especially as younger generations grow up.
Smart retailers know a hook when they see one, and the “green” deals on offer this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and throughout the days and weeks to come have stretched to more price ranges, and include sustainable alternatives for traditional gifts from tools to perfume to sweaters. Plus, gift lists increasingly might feature requests for service or donations in addition to “stuff.”
Year-round shifts in climate-conscious buying should not go out the window in the holiday rush. Research from BCG found that 38% of consumers switched from their preferred clothing brand this year to a different one that has better environmental and social practices. That data also revealed that lifestyle changes like opting for electric vehicles, demanding sustainable or less packaging and prioritizing digitalization to save paper and plastic will rise among consumers in the coming year and beyond.
Remember, according to the Stanford University Recycling Center, Americans create 25% more waste in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas than any other time of year, totaling 25 million tons of additional garbage.
Here are some ideas for green giving this year, including specials and industry advice on environmental fake-outs:
Greenworks will take an extra 35% off its lineup of outdoor electric tools, through a deal with 9to5toys.com. On top of its signature electric mowers, savings will extend to leaf blowers, snow throwers, pressure washers and more for households that want to ditch gas
throughout their tool shed. The Greenworks 48V 20-inch Electric Lawnmower is priced at $338, down from $520.
Solar for all those gadgets
Discounted to $179 for Black Friday specials, the Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station can power an iPhone, laptop, and lighting setup while camping or during a power outage. The lightweight Explorer 240 has a solid handle for easy carrying and offers simple push-button start for easy use, say reviewers at Electrek. The Explorer 240 also has a built-in Maximum Power Point Tracking, or MPPT, controller for better efficiency. You can add eco-friendly solar recharging with the SolarSaga 60W solar panel (sold separately).
‘You Buy, We Donate’
Sensible giving might put an emphasis on the social awareness of the companies you’re buying from. Keen Footwear, known largely for outfitting hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, has launched a ‘You Buy, We Donate’ initiative as part of their Green Friday shopping weekend. They’ll give a portion of sales to ForestSeeders for every shoe sold.
Several retailers make donation add-ons part of the holiday buying season. Check them out.
Soft sweaters, gently worn
Patagonia sells sweaters made from pre-consumer cashmere scraps collected from factory floors in Europe. Its Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater goes for $199.
Not settled on a sweater? Try the retailer’s Worn Wear program, which lets shoppers buy gently used pieces from apparel to equipment.
High-caliber coffee, recycled pods
Nespresso, the home-brewed coffee pod alternative, with a robust recycling program, is offering 25% off select machines on Black Friday. It has discounts on its limited-edition coffee as well.
Does this pod system, which can brew regular and decaffeinated coffee, too, beat a traditional espresso machine? Reviewers like to say “Nespresso is worth it” because of its combination of ease and consistency.
Perfume and cologne: Be wary of ‘natural’
“Natural’ ingredients are often associated with being eco-friendly, but buyer beware. “Naturals aren’t necessarily sustainable, and they are often more allergenic. A perfume should contain a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients,” a fragrance expert tells Elle Magazine in a preview of scents for the holidays. Keep in mind that synthetics are lab created and do not include animal-derived materials. That means they can provide cruelty-free alternatives and cut down on over-harvesting in our natural world.
One suggestion for a scented gift is Clean Reserve, found at Dossier, Sephora and elsewhere. The fragrance maker has secured partnerships that help support small farming communities that ethically harvest their ingredients. They use a 100% recycled box and a wooden cap.
Meanwhile, upcycled perfumes is the newest trend disrupting the sustainable fragrance arena, according to Elle. Remember, the line between smells awful and smells wonderful in perfume world is all about chemistry. Tantrum, a perfume from Boy Smells, is made by distilling essential oils from byproducts of the furniture manufacturing industry and turning them into this “spirited peppery green scent,” says the Elle reviewer.
Or, consider beauty retailer Lush and its no-packaging approach. Lush, for instance, sells a long-lasting scent in balm format.
The ‘greenest’ of green gift cards?
Gift cards are increasingly popular, and are a good way to make sure the recipient actually uses the end product. Card giving is said to be on the rise because of supply chain shortages, too. But are cards the greenest way to give a gift? Most physical gift cards are made from PVC, which can be recycled but not usually through your household recycling service.
You can send used gift cards in the mail to a specialist recycler or see if your local store has a gift card drop off point (they sometimes collect them to send to recyclers in batches as this is much more eco-friendly than sending one gift card through the mail), says the grocery retailer Kroger, in a blog post.
Some brands are also starting to use more sustainable materials for gift cards, like biodegradable paper or wood, which can go in curbside recycling or the garden composter. You can also buy egift cards which are completely digital — meaning there’s no waste at all.
Actual reusable wrapping
Take this tip from Japan. Try pretty fabric or a tea towel to wrap a gift, and the recipient can reuse it, either in their home or for future gift-giving. Use any fabric you like or try the Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrapping Cloth from Anthropologie.
Side-by-side sustainable browser extension
A new browser extension called Beagle aims to help shoppers directly compare “sustainable” recommendations and other alternatives next to most products sought online.
Beagle uses “a blend of artificial intelligence and language recognition algorithms” to match users with a close product alternative.
To use, install Beagle, hit its extension button while browsing a retail site. Information might include an alternative product or compare the green credentials of the retailer.