The Impact of Black Friday

Black Friday kicks off the start of the festive season with a round of discounts and flash sales. The lure of the event is tempting for customers, and it’s tempting for companies as well. With so many big promotions it can be difficult not to get swept up in the mad dash to the checkout. 

But we try to take things slowly at Naked Sprout. When we look at the impact Black Friday has on our environment, even the most seasoned of seasonal bargain hunters can see the problem with this annual festival of consumption - a huge pile of waste.

So as the makers of the most sustainable toilet rolls in the UK, and with the biggest shopping day of the year around the corner, we want to take a moment to share our thoughts about Black Friday.

The Problem with Black Friday

We’ve all been there - standing at the till with something we don’t really need but can’t resist, because the discount is just too good. On Black Friday companies crank the temptation up to 11. The deals on offer might not even be the best bargain, a 2022 Which? study found that 98% of goods discounted on Black Friday are available at the same or a lower price throughout the year. But the urgency of the limited time offer gets people buying all the same. 

With offers on every product imaginable, millions of goods are made, discounted, and sold - but are they actually being used? 

In a lot of cases, the answer is no. A study in 2019 by Phil Purnell, professor of civil engineering at the University of Leeds, found that 80% of the products (and their packaging) sold through Black Friday sales end up in landfill or incinerators “after a very short life”. When we consider the materials, road miles, energy, and packaging involved in manufacturing and delivering these goods, it’s a grim picture of waste. 

So it’s not surprising to see more eco-conscious brands swimming against the Black Friday tide. Patagonia’s famous “Don’t Buy this Jacket” campaign of 2011 outlined the total environmental and human cost of one of their staple items - and advised customers not to buy new clothes if they could replace, repair, reuse, or recycle instead. Some companies go further, shutting up shop altogether on Black Friday.

The situation is a bit different for us at Naked Sprout. We are in the business of necessity - nobody is buying toilet rolls for the thrill of it! Unlike many of the plastic-wrapped items hitting the Black Friday shelves, we know our toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, and tissues will actually get used. 

So we’re not closing up for the day, but we’re taking it as an opportunity to think about the message we’re sending as a company, our place in the market, and our place in your home. 

Our Big Reduction

You may have noticed us hitting our social media with a big bold reduction - 50% off. 

This isn’t a special promotion and it’s not a new offer. It’s the same reduction we offer every day; products that generate 50% less CO2e emissions than eco alternatives, due to the groundbreaking way we manufacture. 

But we cut out much more than that. We don’t use plastic, we don’t use bleach, we don’t use harsh chemicals like formaldehyde to fluff up our fibres, and we don’t use dyes or fragrances. 

We’re even finding ways to reduce waste from other companies. Our recycled rolls are made from recycled cardboard delivery boxes and kraft paper, just like the kind that will be flying around this Black Friday! This is a source of waste material that is growing rapidly, and currently under-used so we’re happy to do our bit to reduce the pile.

We know there are more beautiful rolls out there - with colourful dyed wrappings, bleached tissue, and fancy inserts. But we’re right back again to the main problem of Black Friday - the unnecessary waste of it all. Let’s remember, this is a product that’s going to be flushed away!

Keeping it Consistent

We’re keeping our pricing consistent over the next few weeks, so that all of our new and returning customers pay the same price as they stock up for the holidays, with no extra pressure placed on our warehouse, supply chain, or delivery network. 

As we head into the festive season, we know our products will be playing a supporting role; helping with the cooking, making sure the loo is well-stocked for guests, and dealing with the inevitable sniffle along the way. It seems a bit odd to gush about tissue products but we are really proud of our place in your home, and grateful for every order.  

In return, we are offering full transparency. From 2023 we will be printing on our boxes the full climate footprint of Naked Sprout, a reminder of the material costs and processes that go into making our products. 

And if you did want to buy something for someone you love, might we suggest something that you know for sure they will actually use? If nothing else, it’s one less thing to think about! 

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