Any excuse for buying a new gadget, like it’s cheap or it’s in trend is hazardous for your budget, health and the environment. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two such days that feed these excuses into the minds of consumers and make them buy more. The sales and discounts on such occasions, leads consumers to a gadget buying spree that results in a hazardous e-waste hangover.
How Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales Are Boosting E-Waste Generation
The marketing and selling tricks suddenly make consumers realize that their smartphone is not smart anymore and without a care in the world, they purchase the latest one. This blind race towards latest trendy gadget creates floods of highly toxic e-waste, which has the potential to drown our health, environment and may be the whole planet.
As per a statement by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), “74 percent of Americans buying gifts this holiday season will likely purchase consumer electronics, spending an average of $230 each on hot ticket items such as tablets, notebooks, e-readers, and smart phones.”
Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday discounts have now become an alternative expression for bargain electronics. On an average, every household now owns approximately 18 to 24 appliances each.
A report by Demos titled, “Tackling High Tech Trash: The E-Waste Explosion and What We Can do About It,” highlights the following aspects of the e-waste problem:
• Low durability of electronic appliances
• Rising electronic market
• Challenges in recycling electronic waste like “design and material complexity, global supply chains and unorganized e-scrap markets”
• Health and environmental hazards due to improper e-waste disposal
• Latest developments in e-waste export regulations and recycling initiatives by private as well as public sector
Facts and Stats – Holiday Weekend Sales Resulting In High Consumerism
Strategies of discounts and sales to lure buyers and increase consumerism have worked successfully in the past and it is still flourishing. Here are some statistics proving the success of Cyber Monday over past few years:
• Total Sales in 2010 – $ 1.4 Billion
• Total Sales in 2011 – $ 1.6 Billion
• Total Sales in 2012 – $ 1.8 Billion
• Total Sales in 2013 – $ 2.2 Billion
Source – comScore data
Here is the data displaying the growth in online shopping trend throughout the Holiday Weekend –
• In 2010 – $ 51.7 Billion
• In 2011 – $ 59.5 Billion
• In 2012 – $ 68.4 Billion
• In 2013 – $ 78.7 Billion
• In 2014 – $ 89 Billion
Source – Forrester Research
comScore, one of the prominent IT companies that provide digital analytics found that in 2014, on Thanksgiving Day, e-commerce expenses went up by 32 percent to $1.01 billion and on Black Friday it rose by 26 percent to $1.5 billion. Target, well known US Retail Company said that Thanksgiving 2014 was its “best online shopping day ever” with 40 percent hike on digital sales as compared to 2013. This trend has not been limited in the west, retailers and e-commerce businesses are trying to replicate the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in India as well. However, here it’s not only a day’s sale – it has become a week long affair with multiple Fri-week Sales. These sales and discount offers have resulted in the purchase of almost 1500 PlayStation units across the country. Apart from that Sony claims to sell over 4500 units within 14 days of ongoing sale. The company is planning to sell up to 50, 000 PS4s by the end of financial year 2014.
While everyone is busy buying things like TVs, Cell Phones, tablets and other such appliances, we need to ask ourselves –
• Do we really need all these things?
• What will happen to the older still working products?
• How this thoughtless shopping will affect the environment?
• Are we going to drown in this flood of consumerism?
• What we can do about it?
The problem with manufacturing, purchasing and dumping all the electronic appliances is that they utilize energy and resources while manufacturing; the process of mining raw materials and manufacturing the product, releases effluents causing pollution and adds to greenhouse gases, consequently leading to global warming; dumping them in landfills further releases toxins in the soil, water and air. Green manufacturing, complete utilization and proper recycling can save a lot of resources and limit pollution and lead to a safer and greener future. The simple solution to this issue is – Reduce, Repair, Reuse and Recycle
Being a consumer, one can start by reducing the number of electronics they buy out of haste or trend. It is advised that one must buy product with high durability. Consumers should try to stay away from the tactics of planned obsolescence and stop purchasing latest gadgets just for the sake of being latest. Follow the simple rule – buy it only if you really need it.
In case of slight issues, one can get their appliances repaired and reuse it. If they don’t find it fit to use they may resell it or donate it to someone who can utilize it. And if the appliance is broken beyond repair and is not at all fit to be used then hand it over to a certified and ethical recycler. Recycling allows for the recovery of reusable materials so that they can be utilized again for production of new product. Also, recycling helps save energy and ensures conservation of raw materials.
Go green and be thankful for the planet!