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Dive Brief:

  • Instead of encouraging the traditional Black Friday shopping on Nov. 25, retailer United By Blue will be celebrating a nationwide cleanup initiative dubbed "Blue Friday" that encourages consumers to take action against waste and litter. 
  • The company — which has a mission of removing one pound of waste from the ocean for every product sold — has already sold out of its free "Blue Friday Cleanup Kit" including gloves and trash bags. A downloadable guide gives advice on safe collection, recycling separation and location selection for anyone else who wants to participate.
  • United by Blue will also be providing some cleanup supplies at its Philadelphia and New York brick-and-mortar stores. The company intends to encourage consumers to organize their own local cleanup efforts and share them on social media using #BlueMovement.

Dive Insight:

Black Friday — which can lead to both headaches and profits for retailers — marks the beginning of a heavy season for many local haulers. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the amount of household waste generated increases by about 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

This season's waste generation is part of larger year-round trends, but presents a good opportunity to raise awareness about littering in local communities. Anti-litter campaigns throughout the world have tried a variety of tactics but still can't seem to change the innate carelessness that some people show with their waste. As recognized in United by Blue's mission, this has contributed to a large ocean pollution problem with no easy solution.

Continued funding for community cleanups and efforts to promote them via social media have brought more attention to these issues. As Black Friday protests continue to gain popularity it's possible that some of that energy could be channeled into larger numbers of cleanup events in future years.