9 Ways To Make Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping More Sustainable

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Once we're done giving thanks, it's time to get our shop on with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But just because Thanksgiving is over doesn't mean we shouldn't be focusing on gratitude and charity anymore. And what better what to show the planet we're grateful than to make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping a little bit more eco-friendly? Spoiler alert: there's no better way! Opting to go green and reduce waste is always the right thing to do.

Shopping for new items can be an incredibly wasteful endeavor. From the fuel to get to the store, to the non-recyclable packaging that many items come in, to the environmental toll manufacturing the items themselves take, shopping doorbuster sales might be a great way to save money, but it's definitely doesn't help to save the planet. That said, there are ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and minimize your waste this holiday shopping season. Here, I've put together a list of guidelines that can help you to have a slightly greener Black Friday and Cyber Monday, because saving a few bucks is definitely not worth neglecting the environment. And if you can do both, why wouldn't you? This holiday season, save money and save the planet, one smart choice at a time.

1Pick One Store To Shop At & Stick With It

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If you're going to head out to the department store sales, pick one store. Driving all around town and circling parking lots for hours is a huge waste of time, energy, fuel, and emissions. Pick one central place to park and do the rest of the hustling by foot.

2Shop Second Hand

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Buying secondhand is easily the most sustainable way to shop. Make a list of what you're in the market for and check all of your local thrift stores to make sure that a perfectly good option isn't already waiting for you (likely with a smaller price tag, too). You can also buy second hand online from eco-friendly market places like thredUP for clothes and Charish for furniture.

3#NoReturns

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Participate in the #NoReturns challenge! Instead of being coy about what you want, only to get something that you're going to return, be clear with your friends and family this holiday season. Trade holiday wish lists on Hinted with your friends and family so that nothing goes to waste. From wrapping paper, to packaging, to fuel, there's no need to do it all twice. If you need incentive, during the holiday season, from Nov. 21 to Jan. 1, Hinted will donate a portion of all proceeds of their affiliate sales fees to Oceana.org to help save the oceans.

4Consolidate Your Online Order

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Postal companies like UPS and FedEx are more efficient with fuel than individual consumers are, and with a truck delivery in your street likely on a daily basis, you can make the most out of the trip by purchasing your order online. To reduce packaging, consolidate all of your online orders to one store, if possible.

5Bring Your Own Bags

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If you do nothing else this holiday season, bring your own reusable bags while shopping. There's no reason to waste a plastic shopping bag when literally all stores are cool with you bringing your own tote. If you're worried you might forget, keep a tote or seven rolled up in your purse or your car so that you're always prepared.

6Carpool Or Take Public Transit

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Chances are, you're not the only person in your home, your building, your street, or your neighborhood who is heading out to the stores on Black Friday. Get in touch with your family and your neighbors and coordinate a carpool. If there's an option to take public transportation, do so. Chances are, there is a bus, a train or a ride share that will take you to where you want to go. While public transportation isn't always and comfortable as a car, it's the responsible thing to do. If you have to be on the road, make sure that you're at least putting in the effort to make the endeavor a bit more eco-friendly.

7Shop Small

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The deals at big box stores can be a tempting way to save on big-ticket items, but consider supporting local businesses and mom and pop shops while you're searching for gifts. That's why Small Business Saturday has started trending in recent years, as an antidote to Black Friday. By shopping small, not only will you save at least a little fuel, you'll also be putting your money back into your community.

8Opt For Fair-Trade And Sustainable Gifts

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Instead of just purchasing the item with the flashiest sale sign, do some research beforehand. Where was this item made? Is it fair trade? How long will it last? What kind of materials is it made with? If you can't answer these questions favorably, you should think twice about taking it off the shelves. While one purchase might seem insignificant, you have to remember that for every item that you buy, another is made to replace it.

9Recycle And Donate

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For every new item that you plan to bring into your home, plan also to give one away. Donate your old, but functional furniture, clothes and electronics to your local thrift store to give them a second life. If you have electronics or goods that are no longer functional that you'd like to get rid of, check out Waste Management to see how to do it efficiently.