How “Green” Is Online Shopping? – Is Online Shopping Better?

We strive to do things better, to make the environment better, but what we do not do is think about whether some of our actions are really better for the environment and the world around us. Having a car and using it frequently does not help if the car is not full of people who actually have to go somewhere and do certain tasks. Joyriding is probably not a good way to reduce emissions.

Similarly, we think of doing things online as a greener way of doing things. Here is what you should know about online shopping and whether it is as green as it is claimed.

Online Shopping Can Be Green

Online shopping is green for most consumer electronic devices. When we try to calculate emissions, we start from the last known distribution center to the consumer. Most devices that we purchase online, particularly small electronic devices, or even larger ones such as instruments, tend to impact the environment less. Nobody is likely to physically carry a 70 pound guitar amplifier from a shop miles away to their home. They will likely go by car or call a taxi.

Having that item delivered as part of standard deliveries lowers emissions and makes things easier for everybody else. This is not true for all items, however.

Groceries and Hygiene Products

Other types of products are better purchased in person. Online shopping can only do so much, mostly because most items are not purchased online due to their availability in the store nearest to you. Whether on foot or by bicycle, we are able to purchase plenty of necessary items without having any carbon emissions. Groceries, hygiene products and things like cosmetics can be purchased in person and should be, if we want to stay green.

It Depends on the Type of Transport

Online shopping can be greener if the type of transport is efficient. A van which is decades old will never be as efficient as one which is a year old. But a new van which makes several trips per day instead of a single organized route is much worse. It depends on the type of transport and the schedule of the transport. Having an item delivered with other items at a similar location is better for the environment than delivering a single item for one person. This is why some stores want you to wait if you don’t want to pay for shipping. It’s not worth it for anybody.

It Depends on the Person

Some people are prone to making bad choices when it comes to shopping. They will go everywhere by car even though they could go by bicycle. Going by bicycle not only gets you to exercise but also to save fuel and not have any carbon emissions. Exercise is healthy and no carbon emissions is better for the air you breathe.

Similarly, if one is willing to do things on foot, or with economical and environmentally friendlier methods of transport, then online shopping might not be greener.

Online shopping is greener for some articles and not for others. One has to take into account what they are purchasing and what the alternative for purchasing in person would be. Electronic and heavier goods are better purchased online than in person, while groceries and most day-to-day necessities are better purchased in person.