A Good Company is not taking part in Black Friday. Instead, we are celebrating Green November.
Great, a new Holiday.
Hear us out.
During the year we plant a tree every time someone purchases from our marketplace. It doesn’t cost you anything extra. We like trees and think they are important. You can read more about this initiative here.
Green November is simple. We think A Good decision for the environment should be rewarded with a fair discount - no scrambling and no “today only” sales. During the entire month we will offer a flat 15% savings on all our products - all sustainably manufactured, include no wasteful or unnecessary packaging, and all transport is climate compensated.
Additionally, for the entire month, we will also plant a tree for every €10 in sales in addition to our standard 1️⃣ 🌲 per order policy.
Every year Black Friday comes around and every year it’s the same thing.
Businesses start to deliberately drive people crazy by rolling out seemingly low prices on popular items in the hope that crowds will rush in and purchase even more once they walk through the doors.
If you’re in a small family struggling to get by and you need to get the best possible price for a stove or a washing machine that’s one thing and waiting for that once a year deal is completely understandable. If you’ve had your eye on a really special item you know someone you love would appreciate but it’s normally out of your price range, by all means, get it.
Those are both conscious decisions. But Black Friday seems to bring out the worst tendencies in people - including ourselves. It rewards mindless consumption and waste. The weekend Black Friday kicks off is like the opening of a blockbuster movie and every year projections are made as to whether it will be a hit or a flop. Last year was the biggest ever in the United States. The score? $24.2 billion in online sales alone. Sound like a lot? Total retail sales came in at around $700 Billion. And now there’s also “Singles Day” recently imported from China. It has become the largest one-day retail event in the world.
With so many people shopping and generating that much revenue all at once, it’s understandable that businesses want a slice of that very lucrative pie. The numbers are staggering.
Equally staggering are the rates at which people return those holiday purchases. Liquidation platform B-Stock Solutions estimates that more than 30% of online purchases are returned. That’s $7.25 billion in online sales clawed back. Statista estimates that the annual cost of return deliveries will hit $550 billion by 2020; just in the US.
But that’s not even the worst of it. According to common sense and research conducted by Dr. Sharon Cullinane, professor of sustainable logistics at the University of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law, there is a substantial environmental impact from returned goods that consumers may not consider and which sometimes is deliberately obfuscated.
Returns need to be checked, processed and repacked . . . items travel for maybe thousands of kilometers before going back to sale.
Some companies have dedicated sorting warehouses but many returns are processed in faraway places where labor is cheapest and costs low.
Consumers tend to think about the benefits, not the consequences of their behaviour.
So while the majority of e-commerce returns are “free” for the consumer, there are hidden costs to consider that we all end up having to pay. A pair of shoes purchased on Cyber Monday that didn’t fit and were subsequently returned has more than one size issue. The carbon footprint of that pair of shoes is far outsized what it appears to be when you consider the logistical ping pong game transporting it from place to place costs the environment.
E-commerce companies generally do not explain the return process in detail; the reason being that the most prolific returners also tend to be the best customers.
There’s nothing wrong with making a profit or trying to find a good deal. The money made over what we need today is what we store away to cushion the ups and downs of life. That’s the Ant and the Grasshopper. It’s also nice to splurge now and then. Sometimes you just want that nice bag or you want to reward your daughter for her excellent behavior with a new Mario game.
But shopping in general and holiday shopping, in particular, has morphed into a perverse celebration of destructive behavior combined with almost willful ignorance of consequences. It rewards impulsive thinking, cultivates a culture of immediate gratification, and takes no account of either the psychological or environmental damage wrought on people and the planet.
This is how we are going to handle Black Friday. No need to wake up early. No need to make a quick decision that you might regret later.
You have an entire month to consider whether something we sell is something you want. If not, that’s fine. If so, then you also get to help us plant a forest.
We hope you will participate in Green November with us. Use #GreenNovember to share ideas on how to make an even bigger impact.
And if you own a company and would like two participate - hit us up. We’d love to share with you how we buy our trees or work together to plant an even bigger forest.