Year-round, sustainability sits at the forefront of Ecology Center programming and operations. During every holiday season while our EcoStore customer traffic picks up to find the best holiday gifts, we have both our customers and the Earth in mind. Annually on the Friday following Thanksgiving, the Ecology Center takes part in Green Friday, a conscientious alternative to the consumer holiday of Black Friday. In the US, Black Friday has consistently been the busiest shopping day of the year since at least 2005. For the remainder of the holiday season and through the new year, we continue and commit to doing better.
The holiday season among festive decorations and generous holiday spirits that chime with optimism and cheer, also implies the demand for resource extraction, material imports and exports, as well as environmental and climate impacts across the country and globe.
From Black Friday to Christmas and the New Year celebration, you as a consumer have an opportunity to use your dollars for good. In our consumer centered society, what you purchase can make a difference. Choosing to purchase local, sustainably sourced, and low waste products support businesses that make responsible decisions, and it shows competitors that consumers appreciate responsible business practices. Voting with your dollar can prompt real change. By working within the rules of capitalism while pushing for compassionate choices, change can occur.
History & Climate Impacts of Black Friday
Hidden behind the deals, advertisements, long lines and catchy jingles is the fact that the holiday season, past and present, has a serious and detrimental environmental toll. High-consumption season between November and December is symbolic of many of the issues that our society has, including an increasingly obvious consumerism that leaves the environment behind while maximizing profits.
In 1941, President Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday from the final Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday of November in order to lengthen the holiday shopping season for retailers. Shopping is deeply entwined with the end of the year holiday season in the U.S.. Unfortunately, this consumption has serious negative effects on people and our shared planet.
During the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans generate 25% more waste than during other times of the year. A lot of this waste is paper, plastic, and food, which all require energy and resources to create. Plastic and paper don’t degrade easily, and can stay in landfills for centuries. In an anaerobic environment like a landfill, paper doesn’t rot, and plastics can take tens to hundreds of years to degrade. The holiday period can be a chance to reflect on consumption and reduce the amount that you produce.
The holiday season has very real consequences ranging from increased injuries and deaths on Black Friday to the poor working conditions where many products are produced and manufactured. The environmental effects can’t be ignored — if all people consumed products at the rate of America alone, we would need 4 Earths to maintain the demand. The materialism during the holiday season is centered around and leads to continued resource depletion and labor violation amongst countless workers around the world and also largely contributes to the growing levels of greenhouse gas and toxic emissions.
Supporting Green Businesses
The Ecology Center store does not ship any products to customers, and offers walk-in and pick-up only. Online shopping and shipping often generates a significant portion of emissions for businesses. A recent study found that visiting a brick and mortar store often produces the fewest emissions, especially when compared to online shipping. There are not many brick and mortar stores that offer low or zero waste goods for home and bath, and day to day activities.
Our store aims to fill a gap for consumers who want to do the right thing and shop guilt-free. We offer a more conscientious, responsible way to shop for the holidays. We offer products that are made from materials that are more durable, last longer, and have a lower impact on the people that create them, and the places that the resources come from.While it can be difficult to track all the different parts of creating, moving, and consuming a product, the Ecology Center conducts extensive research to ensure that you are purchasing products that have a minimal negative impact on our environment and people. Our products should either last a long time (hopefully forever), or break down into easily biodegradable materials. To learn more about our policies concerning products, please read our Policy page. It covers the extensive and careful considerations we take before selling a product in our store.
This holiday season, vote with your wallet and choose items that are greener, longer lasting, and sustainably sourced. If you have any questions about our holiday store hours, methodology, or purchasing practices, check out our EcoStore page.