Online shopping is easier than ever these days — you can get practically anything you need in 24 hours. It’s so ubiquitous that we often don’t (or can’t) consider the true impact it has on the environment. From excessive packaging to returns that get sent straight to a landfill, online shopping is often far from green.
Can the eco-conscious actions of one person have an effect on the overall industry? It may not seem like it, but collectively, the impact of mindful shoppers can be huge. Every effort counts, so proudly embrace these tips the next time you order something online.
1. Decide Before You Buy
One of the most environmentally harmful aspects of e-commerce is the practice known as “reverse logistics” — in other words, returns. Thanks to Zappos, clothes shoppers have become accustomed to buying multiple sizes to get the right fit. They can always send back the extras, they reason, so no harm done, right? Wrong.
What many shoppers don’t realize is that their returned items don’t necessarily get resold — often they’re immediately discarded. The items themselves become solid waste, and the fossil fuels burned in their round-trip trek are entirely squandered.
So the first step when placing an e-commerce order is determining whether you really need your purchase and won’t be apt to return it. Ask yourself whether you can pick up the item nearby with reasonable ease; if so, forgo your online order. Check whether past buyers have been satisfied with the product you’re considering. If the reviews are raves, chances are you’ll also be happy to keep your acquisition once it arrives.
Finally, focus your online purchases on items you’re intrinsically unlikely to return. Chances are good you’ll make immediate use of your birth control order or other online prescriptions. Household staples like light bulbs and paper products will also get used. Whatever you’re in the online market for, do your best to ensure it only makes a one-way trip.
2. Buy From Eco-Friendly Retailers
The biggest retailers (Amazon, Walmart, etc.) are significant polluters due to their reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, Amazon’s carbon footprint grew 19% in 2020 due to the pandemic-driven surge in e-commerce orders. So much pollution goes into the manufacturing of packaging materials and shipping that reversing these effects requires large-scale effort. Avoiding these companies, despite how pervasive they can be, will make it a lot easier to control your impact.
Instead of buying from giants like Amazon, search out businesses that are dedicated to environmental sustainability. Many products you buy are being sold by companies that focus on things like recycled materials and ethical sourcing. All it takes is a quick internet search to locate exactly what you’re looking for. You can find everything from clothing made from recycled plastic to carbon-neutral beauty products.
Significant effort goes into making these items in ways that don’t rely on harmful aspects of traditional supply chains (chemical processing, substandard wages, etc.). This transfers to the consumer in the form of quality and care that may be lacking from less enlightened manufacturers and retailers. As a result, upfront prices may be higher with eco-conscious businesses — but the quality you receive will often be also. Consuming higher-quality goods is a subtle change, but it can have a beneficial impact on your long-term savings and quality of life.
3. Minimize Packaging Waste
Who hasn’t received an enormous box from Amazon, only to discover one small, well-swaddled item inside? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use the excess packaging materials you might receive.
One approach is to reuse them for other purposes in your home. You can store fragile items in leftover bubble wrap, for example, and use boxes for storage. You might also look into upcycling certain packaging, creating something even better out of it. If none of these options appeals, you can always find out how to recycle the materials and do so.
With a little forethought, you can even order items with the express purpose of upcycling the waste they create. Say you’re a fiend for candles, but then find yourself accumulating glass jars when they’re all burned up. Instead of tossing them, you can clear them of wax to store loose kitchen essentials like teas and spices. These reused vessels will save you money on storage and look great in your home.
4. Do the Little Things When You Can
Say you’re looking for a used book or a certain kind of item on eBay. If you can’t get something nearby and must have it shipped, make a conscious effort to order it from the closest source. This is one of the more direct ways to lessen your purchase’s impact because it lowers immediate fuel usage.
The following eco-conscious tactics are also beneficial if the online retailer offers them as an option. When making a large multi-item purchase, online marketplaces will sometimes allow you to choose to package them together. Doing so prevents one order from spawning multiple fossil fuel–spewing journeys.
Another possibility is paying a small carbon offset fee to ensure that your order and its delivery are carbon-neutral. If these options are available, they are good ways to make small differences that will add up.
When you’re shopping for products online, the possibilities are virtually endless. Because of this, it’s up to you to make sure your decisions have the impact you want them to. If you’re reading this article, you’ve already taken one step toward eco-consciousness. Next time you need an item online, you’ll be able to make the most planet-friendly choices.
Article Submitted By Community Writer
Dr Prem Community Writer February 18, 2022 at 12:23PM