Black Friday Gets a Green Tint with New Shopping Guides

Black Friday Gets a Green Tint with New Shopping Guides

We are just two days away from Black Friday, that glorious American holiday when people line up in the dark of night at their favorite retailers to score great deals on whatever it is they think they need.

Even if no one gets trampled to death during this year's shopping sprees, Black Friday marks, from a standpoint of conscientious consumption at the very least, an annual low point.

But a number of groups, ranging from the federal government to nonprofits to research groups, are jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon telling shoppers in effect "if you have to shop, shop for green goods."

First comes a one-note pitch from the EPA, plugging Energy Star-certified products from TVs to computer monitors to battery chargers. The EPA also offers some "Other Holiday Saving Tips," such as buying Christmas lights that bear the Energy Star label and recycling old electronics (apropos of my post about Black Friday and e-waste from yesterday).

Separately but pretty much identically, the electric utility company Southern California Edison has released a shopping guide [PDF] that treads the same ground: Buy Energy Star-rated DVD players, TVs, computers and printers, as well as power-saving surge protectors, and so on.

On a broader front, the nonprofit Climate Counts is kicking off this week a five-week campaign to urge shoppers to support those companies that score highest on its Climate Counts ratings. The "Striding Shopper campaign" (also taking place on Facebook) highlights which companies are tops in their fields -- which, as you can see in the image below (click for a full-sized version), can be a very relative term, depending on what store you're shopping in.

Striding Shopper scores

Electronics, for instance, is home to a number of "striding" companies, while your best bet in the Toy category (Hasbro, with 37 points) scores less than half as well as the best electronics company (HP, with 79).

Finally, at least for now, is the lone entrant in today's news that's focused on retailers -- and it's such an obvious green fix that it's truly difficult to believe it's a problem at all.

A study from the U.K.-based Close the Door Campaign looks at just how much energy retailers waste by leaving their front doors open during the winter, in an effort to make their shops more inviting or easier to enter to the passerby on the street.

I've heard of a similar campaign to keep retailers from leaving their doors open in the summer, blasting air conditioning out onto hot streets to lure in pedestrians, but for the life of me I can't recall seeing the same tactic in the winter. (Of course, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so there are any number of factors -- cultural, political and most importantly meteorological -- that make this a non-issue around here.)

Unsurprisingly, Close the Door finds that retailers who leave their doors open during the winter, with "air curtain" heaters blowing down from above the entrance, use significantly more energy than when their doors are closed. In the two case studies presented in the report, one shop used 30 percent more energy, and another used 54 percent more energy.

Close the door study


What, if anything, are you doing to green your Black Friday, or your holiday shopping in general? Or are you observing instead Buy Nothing Day? Let us know in the comments below.