According to the US Census Bureau, eCommerce sales made up around 10% of total US retail sales in the third quarter of 2018.
This means that more and more people are turning to online shopping for their needs, which leads to the question: is it sustainable?
One might think that because online stores aren’t wasting energy on light bulbs for their storefront, or adding to pollution by requiring customers to drive to their locale. This is partly true.
In fact, research at Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute found that shopping online would lead to a 35% reduction in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
However, like any good thing, there’s always a downside. Armed with these helpful tips, you can be sure you’re able to save money, live better, and engage in sustainable online shopping practices.
How to Stay Eco-Friendly While Shopping Online
1. Make Sure You’re Home When the Delivery Occurs
If you’ve selected a delivery option that means the driver can’t drop the package if you’re not home, then a redelivery can add a significant amount of carbon emissions to your purchase.
Problems arise when consumers are not at home, which means you should either ensure you’ll be home or opt for the flexible delivery options.
2. Rethink Your Returns
Similar to the issue mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to think about what you’re sending and receiving in regards to online shopping. Any return is going to increase the carbon footprint.
For example, Zalando, one of the biggest online retail websites, the return rate of packages is 50%. In the US, returned goods caused online stores to use 4.5 billion liters of diesel fuel and emit 12 million tons of carbon emissions in 2015.
3. Don’t Buy Things You Think You’ll Return
This should go without saying, and while it’s pretty similar to the point mentioned above, it’s worth its own section.
As more free shipping and return offers pull us into the trap of buying more than we know we’ll need or want, it becomes easier to buy things just with the intent of returning it later.
Be smart about what you buy; do you really need to get that shirt in four different sizes? Probably not.
Get money to work for you without destroying the environment. Instead, opt for smart shopping options that allow you to import photos of yourself to see what you might look like in that item.
4. Opt for the Eco-Friendly Packaging
While it may not be the most popular, if it’s an option during the checkout process, you’ll definitely want to opt for the eco-friendly packaging.
These shipping options do exist and it’s worth the few extra dollars you might have to pay in order to reduce your impact on the environment.
Besides, with so many money-earning apps on the market these days, you’ll be able to earn money easy to cover that small expense.
5. Walk to the Store!
Where you live matters. Cutting down on your carbon footprint is easy if the UPS or FedEx driver has to drive less to get to you than you might have to just to get to the store.
However, if you live in an urban jungle and are close to public transport, can ride your bike, or maybe even walk a mile or two to pick up your purchase from the store, it might be best to opt for the in-store pickup option when shopping online.
This is actually one of the best ways to save money on gas if you have a car, too. Walking to places seriously reduces your fuel budget while allowing you to reduce your carbon footprint.
6. Saving the Planet While Saving Money
Even though online shopping seems to reduce the impact businesses have on the environment, it’s important to stay conscious and assess the impact you personally will have by ordering items online.
Arm yourself with the tips above or do your own research on how to stay eco-friendly while shopping online to save money while also saving the environment.
If you find that the costs of these tips are too high, then find other ways to save money easy that will allow you to offset the higher costs of eco options.
One way is to put your debit card to work for you! Cheese Debit Card is a 100% free, FDIC insured cashback debit card with saving bonus, and cashback on every purchase you make.
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