To buy or not to buy?

Published on by Nika Zobec

Did you know that in 2016 Alibaba needed 1.7 million deliverymen, 400k vehicles, 5k warehouses, and 200 airplanes to meet the demands of China’s Singles Day’s sale?


China’s Singles’ Day (11.11)

China’s Singles’ Day (11.11) is a shopping festival like no other. Even ‘Black Friday’, America’s shopping festival does not come close. Here’s a look at the scale of things from 11.11.2018:

  • Alibaba Group, the main promoter of 11.11, made a billion dollars in sales in the first 90 seconds of the 24-hour event
  • Alibaba’s channels registered 250,000+ transactions per second
  • By the end of the day, Alibaba Group had made $30.8 billion worth of sales (about 213.5 billion RMB)
  • Over 1.88 billion packages were delivered to shoppers across China

In 2019, Alibaba expects nearly 500 million shoppers, a 25% increase from last year.

The festival is only getting bigger with new vendors joining in, more Chinese people entering middle class, and the festival gaining popularity outside of China the already wild frenzy has gotten out of control.

Why is this an issue?

When consumers are exploited to purchase products they don’t actually need, a huge amount of waste is produced. Not only are resources wasted in the production of products, but tons of bubble wrap, tape, and cardboard are used in the process of packaging and shipping. While a part of this may be retrieved and recycled, recycling also involves massive amount of energy for transportation, the resulting carbon emissions, and resources used in the recycling process itself.

Sellers like to get rid of the guilt by promoting recycling, but as this article highlights, recycling is not the solution – it’s the last option.

“Not just a day of discounts, but a day of gratitude!”

When questioned about the motivations behind 11.11, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma once said, "it is not just a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude!"to explain that discounts are how retailers express their gratitude to consumers.

But really? And what about the gratitude to our planet?

In reality, various research shows that businesses tend to mark up prices before big shopping sprees only to reduce them on events like Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and Boxing Day. It has also been shown that companies use sales techniques like “Buy One Get One Free” with the aim is to get rid of their often unsaleable products or to clear-off their old stock before the new year.

As a consumer, being conscious of such tactics is really important. The goal should not be to buy stuff because there is a discount, but to buy because you need it or have a utility for it. After all, companies are profiting heavily from your hard-earned money that you may be spending on something you do not really need.

Join Trashed film screening and a community of like-minded, conscious individuals to share what you think on this issue and possible solutions!

We will also announce the "I AM ENOUGH" campaign for 11.11 during the event to raise awareness on waste and help you to be more conscious about your consumption.