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Sustainability and online shopping – 3 ways we can shop better

While writing yesterday’s post about simple ways to be more sustainable at home, I was struck by the thought of the sheer amount of excess packaging waste that comes from repetitive online shopping whether we’re buying used or new.

I think that taking the first step to decrease the the amount we shop is important. The next piece of being intentional is to consider the way we shop. It is worth taking the time to pause and make a few more environmentally friendly decisions.

Here are 3 easy ways to lower your environmental impact when you’re about to buy something online:

Photo by James Wheeler on
  1. If you frequently place orders with one online retailer, wait until you have a number of purchases in mind and then place a larger order. With services like Amazon Prime, even if you’re shopping intentionally and purchasing only what you need, the temptation to order as soon as a need comes up is a big one. As a result, so many people have cardboard boxes making their way to their front doors numerous times a week – this adds up to a lot of packing material, not to mention the increase in fuel, labor and resources consumed with the delivery of each box. Consolidating orders and buying in bulk can make a big difference in our overall footprint with just a little effort.
  2. Purchase what you need to try on at a brick and mortar store instead of online. While it is more convenient to order things in multiple sizes and return garments that don’t fit, it is quicker, better for the environment and more satisfying to try things on at the store and buy exactly what you need.
  3. Don’t get pulled in by the daily marketing emails and frequent sales that online retailers use to keep their audience engaged. Filters, beautiful backgrounds and the perfect lighting show each item at its absolute best or sometimes in a way that is even better than the reality of the product. Online marketing campaigns play up the fantasy of how we will feel once we get that item into our hands. The reality is almost always completely different and we end up with yet another item that gets put into a pile or returned. Instead, unsubscribe from daily marketing emails and only visit your favorite online stores if you actually need a specific item.


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