The invisible carbon footprint of Black Friday and Cyber Monday - And what you can do about it

November 19, 2019


Did you know that in November 2018, consumers received 80,6 million shopping-related emails? If we take a look at the big picture, the total amount of emails in daily circulation is expected to reach almost 320 billion in 2021.

According to Mike Berners-Lee, Founding Director of Small World Consulting, Professor at Lancaster University, and author of The Carbon Footprint of Everything, each email we send produces 1 gram of carbon due to the electricity used to send and display it. And what makes this information reliable? Mike Berners-Lee is the brother of Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the Internet!

So what is the origin of Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

In the 1950s, Philadelphia police used the "Black Friday" term to refer to the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game. Huge crowds of shoppers and tourists went to the city that Friday and cops had to work long hours to cover the crowds and traffic. Cyber Monday is a more modern phenomenon. It was first introduced in 2005 as a marketing concept by online retailer, a division of the National Retail Federation. Seen as an online version of Black Friday, Cyber Monday was created to allow customers to shop online from the comfort of their offices and homes to avoid the busy streets of Black Friday. But there is a huge downside of this day; with the increased popularity of Cyber Monday comes an increase in emissions.

Not Cyber but Carbon Monday

A report by Ovo states that if each person in the UK sent one less email a day, the climate effect would be the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid, or 3334 diesel cars being taken off the road.

On Black Friday email volumes increase with a whopping 47 percent. The following Monday - widely known as Cyber Monday, it jumps by another 30 percent. This means that the promotional emails related to Black Friday and Cyber Monday are responsible for massive carbon emissions equivalent to 4000 return flights between London and New York.

Help to reduce emissions by opting out

So what can you do to reduce the invincible emissions from unwanted promotional emails? Our best advice is to unsubscribe from promotional emails and text messages. A great and simple helper who can do the job for you is Cleanfox - a service that cleans your inbox and plants trees on your behalf.

Do yourself a favor. Delete those tempting email offers.

Want to do more? Sign up to CHOOOSE and reduce your carbon footprint every month. For the price of a cappuccino per month, you help support verified carbon-reducing projects that actively combat climate change. The projects replace carbon-heavy practices with renewable energy and help to improve health and living conditions in local communities.