Online shopping. This year, more than ever, we wouldn’t have gotten through the holiday season without it, and it doesn’t look as if our e-shopping habit is going to ease anytime soon. U.S. e-commerce grew more than 32 percent by the end of September 2020, and is forecast to reach 14.4 percent of all US retail spending this year … and reach 19.2 percent by 2024.
It may feel like online shopping is better than traditional retail for the environment, but warehousing, shipping, packaging and “last-mile” deliveries can load your purchases with more greenhouse gas emissions than you realize. So what’s a Net-Zero Hero™ to do? Recently PC Magazine outlined the steps online shoppers can take to indulge in retail therapy, remain safely at home, and reduce their carbon footprint.
- Repair, don’t replace. Before you buy new electronic devices, find out if your old items can be repaired. In 2007, tech devices made up 1 percent of the planet’s carbon footprint, tripled by 2018 and will reach 14 percent by 2040. The emissions come from mining the rare materials used to make smartphones, laptops and other digital devices.
- Buy refurbished. These items reduce waste and emissions and are a lot easier on your wallet! Apple sells refurbished equipment, Amazon Second Choice offers pre-owned and refurbished items, and eBay offers certified refurbished products that you purchase directly from the brand. You should buy refurbished items only from reputable vendors – but definitely buy refurbished when available!
- Opt for a single delivery. How often do you place an order and see the delivery split into two, three or more shipments? It’s at its worst with same-day orders that need to be dispatched from multiple warehouses. Many vendors, including Amazon, let you choose a longer delivery time or to receive all items on a specific date to reduce packaging and transportation emissions.
- Choose eco-friendly packaging. All that cardboard, bubble wrap, plastic wrap and packing peanuts adds up to approximately 165 billion cardboard packages a year – equivalent to about one billion trees. Many e-tailers now offer the option to ship in as few packages as possible. Vendors and shopping platforms are also offering – and promoting – items that have less packaging or use recycled and recyclable materials.
It’s good to know you can take advantage of the convenience of online shopping and still be a Net-Zero Hero™. Do you have any other suggestions to lower your shopping carbon emissions? Let us know.