I often wondered which was worse for the environment, Black Friday or Cyber Monday? I also often wonder if those “deals” that are advertised are really worth all the effort. I imagine there are a lot more people getting in their cars and driving to a store at some ungodly hour to get a television at 50% off, then there are actual televisions for those people (or whatever the hot deal happens to be). Every year, it’s the same thing. I can look out my window and see a steady stream of cars entering the mall parking lot near my home. All of this unnecessary driving has me wondering what the impact these Black Friday shoppers have on our environment. It also has me looking to see if there are better (or at least comparable) deals to be found.
It turns out that a study was actually conducted comparing Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The 2009 study by MindClick SGM determined that Cyber Monday is 50 times greener than Black Friday as determined by an Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment model approach. While there were certainly holes in the way the study was conducted, I’m sure it’s reasonable to say that there is quite an impact on the environment as a result of increased consumerism the day after Thanksgiving.
Those first few day of the holiday shopping season are also full of deals, which is obviously why consumers are out in full force those days. As someone who loves getting a great deal, it might come as a surprise that only once in my life have I truly taken part in the Black Friday madness. That one Black Friday taught me one thing for sure—I never want to do it again. It was cold, the wait was long, and while I got the item I wanted at a great price, I’m sure I could have done equally well had I done a little more research. Now, with two kids and a full-time job finding time for Christmas shopping is no easy task. This is why I love online shopping.
Online shopping has been my go-to for several years. I think when I was home full-time with my kids it was even harder to get my Christmas shopping done (it’s kind of hard to hide toys from a kid when he’s with you). This year the big thing on my son’s list is Legos. Legos are expensive—something I never understood as a kid. Legos are also timeless. There are so many ways to buy Legos secondhand and I highly recommend it. You will be doing both the environment and your wallet a favor. Plus, Legos are extremely easy to clean (they’re plastic), so you can be confident that you’re giving your child a clean toy. If you have a child who loves Legos some of the places where I’ve had great luck picking up second hand sets or even loose bricks are Ebay, ThePlasticBrick.com and BrickLink.com. Sets are great, but at the end of the day kids just want to build. Pieces will get intermingled, so you really are better off just buying a box of mixed bricks.
‘There are a number of places where you can pick up previously loved toys. Consignment shops are a good place to start. In Brooklyn, NY there’s Monk’s Trunk, in Pennsylvania there’s Replay Toys, and New Jersey has Kidsignments just to name a few. I have found the best way to find a consignment shop in your area that carries toys is to simply do an internet search for “toy consignment” and include your state or city in the search as well. And keep in mind that some consignment shops, like Monk’s Trunk for example, are willing to ship smaller items. So, if there’s something in particular that you’re looking for it doesn’t hurt to ask around at different consignment shops that may be further than you would drive.
Another big thing for kids is video games—while I’m not a huge fan, I do let my kids play them for a limited amount of time. If you have a child who’s a gamer, there’s no need to buy new games. Many stores like GameStop sell pre-owned games and what’s especially nice (besides the lower price) is the guarantee. If the game doesn’t work or even if your child tries it and just doesn’t like it, you can exchange it for another game. This isn’t the case when you buy a new game. They also sell game systems, and they are guaranteed to work. Of course, I would be inclined to test anything else out prior to giving it to the recipient just to make sure.
Whatever it is you’re planning to buy this year, my best recommendation is to make a list and try to get as much done as you can in one shopping “trip.” If you’re going to the store, the fewer times you go, the less gas you will use. If you’re doing online shopping, the more items you buy from one place, the fewer boxes that will be required for shipping, and the less visits from your UPS or Fed Ex delivery person. And finally, don’t buy stuff just because. Try to just pick up those things that you know the recipient will love and really use. Gifts don’t need to be big or expensive. It’s most important that they’re appropriate for the person for whom you’re buying.