Top tips for more sustainable online shopping
Shopping online has become a staple of modern life. The convenience of browsing at home far outstrips the inconvenience of returning unwanted goods, but have you ever stopped to think about the impact your convenient ‘one-day delivery’ services are having on the environment?
Each year, 40 million online transactions occur, and by 2021 e-commerce is expected to be the world’s largest retail channel. The ease of clicking an online button and having anything you need delivered straight to the door is so perfectly designed for busy modern life, that we’ve all come to rely on the system for food to fashion.
Have you ever wondered how all these individual deliveries are impacting the planet? While it might seem a more conscious model than a bricks and mortar store, it really isn’t the case. In fact, if you consider that 33% of landfills in the UK are filled with packaging materials, and delivery vans account for 7% of traffic on urban US roads, you begin to get a clearer picture of this industry’s mammoth carbon footprint.
Awareness of the problem is starting to enter the customer’s consciousness. #Packagingfail has made traction on Instagram, with shoppers highlighting ridiculous amounts of packaging material used to ship just one product. Reams of plastic, paper, polystyrene and padding are shoved into a box, most of which can’t be recycled.
What are the options for consumers? Here are a couple of tips to help.
1. REDUCE HOW MUCH YOU BUY.
The simplest change to make is to reduce your consumption. Ask yourself some key questions before pushing the button – Do you really need it? How many times will you use/eat it? Could you look at other options and use or adapt things you already own?
3. DON’T BE A SERIAL RETURNER.
Put pressure on brands you order from to drastically cut down the amount of packaging materials they use. All those boxes you’ve received that are far too big for the item, require extra materials to fill the space not occupied to avoid damage. It’s called dead space and it’s a highly inefficient system. Larger than necessary packaging means each parcel takes up more room than it needs to in a van, lorry or a shipping container resulting in more shipping containers, and more lorries and so on. It not only costs more, but the cost to the environment is a hidden burden of e-commerce. Use your social platforms to push brands to change, making boxes sturdier and more protective in themselves, eschewing the need for packing materials at all.