Online Black Friday shopping sales hit a record $4.2B, up 14.5% from last year, according to techcrunch.com! Americans are spending more than ever on things from clothes to electronics. But what is the impact of all of this on our Earth? Deals on electronics are the most popular on Black Friday, and many of those purchases filter into the fastest growing waste stream on the planet: electronic waste, or e-waste for short. According to The Basel Action Network, e-waste contains toxic components such as lead, mercury and bisphenol-A (BPA); and when electronics are improperly disposed of, these toxins can seep into the soil. Some other huge environmental polluters are toys and clothing. Most mainstream, cheap, toys are made from plastic (much of it unrecyclable), and are also packaged in it. These plastics fuel global pollution and overwhelm our precious natural spaces. Meanwhile, cheaply priced (and produced) apparel push the consumer desire to constantly refresh their wardrobes and toss old clothing items, adding to huge amounts of textile waste in our landfills. The Council for Textile Recycling reports that the average U.S. resident throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles every single year. Brands like Fashion Nova and Forever 21 also contribute to the growing waste by producing fast fashion. Fast fashion is mass-produced, cheap, clothing that is made to fit the latest fashion trends. Now that we know the problem, what can we do to solve it? For clothes, thrift stores often sell inexpensive second-hand clothing that people have donated. Purchasing from and donating to thrift stores is a great way to reduce the textile waste in landfills and recycle your old clothing. Recycle your old electronics! Apple has a great trade-in program where you trade in your old electronics for credit to get new ones. They use the traded electronics to make new electronics. Overall, just make sure you’re properly disposing of items you don’t need. Being more knowledgeable about how you make an impact on the environment is the first step to becoming more sustainable.
By Evanka Amin