Over the next seven days we will see some of the busiest shopping days of the year in the UK, with Black Friday falling on 24 November and Cyber Monday following immediately after the weekend. With promotional offers encouraging us to trade in our old electronic goods for the latest bigger, shinier versions, we are urging eager consumers to be a bit ‘greener’ this year.
Black Friday originated in the US and is said to have marked the start of the Christmas shopping season there since 1932. Held the day following Thanksgiving, many retailers open early in the morning and offer major discounts on technology and electrical products, encouraging shoppers to buy in time for Christmas.
UK retailers have inherited Black Friday in more recent years, with many opting to modify the concept and offering promotions over a week or ten-day period rather than just one day. Cyber Monday follows Black Friday and has been identified as the busiest day of the year for online shopping.
The UK buys 2 million tonnes of electrical and electronic products (EEE) each year, which generates around 1.5 million tonnes of waste. Unfortunately, around a quarter of this ends up in the residual waste.
In a bid to offer an ‘ethical shopping alternative’, the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) has launched “Buy Nothing New” Day to coincide with Black Friday, urging shoppers to make second-hand the first choice this year. But whether you opt for a brand new electrical item or a pre-owned one, be sure to protect the environment as you shop by considering what you will do with the ones you choose to replace:
Ask about the retailer’s take back arrangements: Under the UK WEEE Regulations, distributors that directly supply new electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) for use by private households must facilitate a free take back service for items returned by consumers. This can be done in-store, or with a collection, and some retailers also offer trade-in schemes where you can hand over your old tablets and mobiles in return for credit off future purchases.
Find a site to recycle: Disposal sites are located across the country that will take your unwanted items and recycle them. Our Recycle with Clarity initiative has a national network of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) disposal sites throughout the UK, offering free and convenient recycling solutions for mobile phones, washing machines, fridges, televisions and much more. Anything broken or unusable is sent to a recycling plant that converts the waste back to raw materials for reuse and separates hazardous substances for safe recycling.
Donate to a worthy cause: If your unwanted electrical items are still in working order, why not donate to a charity or a furniture reuse organisation and help to raise money in the process. Charities like the British Heart Foundation accept small and large electrical items. We work with charities that refurbish and re-use items that are in good working condition.
Pass it on: One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure, and your unwanted electrical items could be just the thing that someone else is looking for. Ask family and friends, pass on for free, or sell online on sites like Gumtree, Freecycle or on Facebook.
You can get more advice about sustainable and sensible Black Friday shopping from WRAP’s SMART guide for electrical goods. The guide is intended to help consumers to keep calm, buy smarter, and keep the environment in mind. WRAP’s advice is to make a shortlist, make a decision before you go, act calm and stick to your decision, register your appliance, and trade-in your old items.
Clarity Environmental runs an initiative to increase recycling rates of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill or illegally exported. Our national network of disposal sites offers free alternative recycling solutions to civic amenity sites. If you are a site manager for an AATF and are interested in joining our Recycle with Clarity network, contact Vikkie Fitzgerald on 01273 929212 or email: email@example.com.