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How to Stay Environmentally Friendly When Shopping Online
A growing priority of shoppers over the last decade has been to reduce their negative impact on the planet, especially when consuming.
While many consumers believe that shopping online isn’t environmentally friendly – perhaps due to the amount of packaging they receive with their online purchases – it’s typically more eco-friendly than going to the store.
Having said this, the realm of online shopping can be a minefield to navigate as an eco-conscious shopper, as there are numerous factors that need to take into account in order to make an environmentally-friendly purchase.
Here are the 4 best things you can do to reduce your environmental impact when shopping online:
One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint online is to shop locally.
Typically, shopping local means that your purchases won’t travel as far to come to you, reducing emissions from delivery vehicles and even from planes – which release at least 6x the CO2 emissions of a car (but often more) per mile – if you’re ordering from an international business.
More than this, local businesses are often less damaging to the environment than similar chain and multinational businesses in their day-to-day operations.
It can be more difficult to shop locally online and still find everything you want – it can be a huge hassle trying to make sure every business you shop with is based locally.
However, platforms such as Flourish Sales Corp. provide a location for the eco-minded shopper to browse their local online marketplace, as it only shows sellers in the same city, territory or state to the shopper.
Akin to a virtual mall/farmer’s market, the Flourish platform provides a convenient platform for shoppers to browse through the small and medium local businesses in their area while accessing everything they need in one online location.
Take an ‘all or nothing’ approach.
One of the worst things you can do for your carbon footprint when shopping is to buy a few things online and drive to a physical store when your items could all have been bought in one go.
This means that your carbon footprint is increased by both the personal use of your car, and by the vehicle used by the delivery driver from a store. Likewise, choosing the ‘click and collect’ is generally less eco-friendly as you’re using one car to retrieve one item, whereas a delivery van might deliver 30 items in one trip. Of course, if you walk or bike to the store, then the same rule doesn’t apply.
Buy from sustainable brands.
One thing that many shoppers worry about when shopping online – or shopping anywhere for that matter – is that the businesses they are supporting are thoughtlessly damaging the environment for more profit.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that sustainable brands have become so desirable to shoppers over the last couple of years. But how do you make sure a brand is truly sustainable?
If a business puts out sustainability reports, that’s a good sign. In these reports, you should look into how much water and energy is used, how much pollution and waste is produced and how far the products have had to travel.
Moreover, products that are reusable substitutes to disposable versions, or products made from sustainable, renewable and recyclable/biodegradable materials such as wood are better options over materials such as plastic.
If a brand is supported by organizations such as Soil Association or Cradle to Grade who verify they’re environmentally friendly, that’s another green flag. Some brands even have initiatives such as planting trees or conservation schemes funded by a fraction of their profits.
Avoid super-fast delivery.
More and more, e-commerce stores are finding ways to offer rapid delivery to their customers, who’ve grown accustomed to having their purchases arrive within the same – or next – day, thanks to e-commerce titans such as Amazon.
However, what many don’t think about is the detrimental effect that this has on the environment.
When e-commerce stores send products to their new owners, their delivery vehicles will likely operate at close to full capacity with slower delivery – this means that only a few trips are required to deliver a high number of items.
However, if customers select same or next day delivery, delivery vehicles typically won’t have as many products to deliver per day, meaning that they’ll operate at a fraction of their possible capacity and have to make more trips to ensure quick delivery to all its customers.
This is particularly harmful as – often – delivery trucks have to travel further than the shopper would if they were to buy the product from their local store – not to mention, the weight of these vehicles means that they contribute to a higher carbon footprint than a car would.
Though these factors are offset by the sheer number of deliveries able to be carried out by one vehicle and one trip usually, this is often not the case when you choose super-fast delivery at checkout.
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