11/09/19
Brice Bunner
Environmental

Think online shopping is more sustainable? There’s more to the story

    

How does the stuff get to you from Amazon?This is not a judgement, it’s a wake-up call. I’m just as guilty; I do as much as the next person to keep my carbon footprint small, but then succumb to that overnight shipping and one-click convenience and then Wham! there goes my sustainability. But, you say, isn’t online shopping more sustainable because I’m not driving around? To answer that, we’ll have to take a step back.

Adopting a sustainable mindset needs to include every impact we could possibly have on the environment—even the ones we aren’t immediately aware of. This reveals the hidden unsustainable practices that systemically affect our own sustainability, like shipping emissions and unsustainable manufacturing methods.

There’s a before to every story

When we purchase things, it’s easy to overlook the life those products had before we finally met up with them. This dissonance in lifecycle is actually why we have a problem with single-use plastics, CO2 emissions, e-waste, and online shopping. We just don’t look at the whole impact our consumption makes. Online shopping is similar in that it obscures the real damage being done to get that eco-friendly yoga mat to your door overnight.

After all, if we really knew the significant environmental expense bottled water creates, would we still toss that bottle after the last sip? Or, if we saw the real emission numbers that lie behind our use of electricity and appetite for beef, would we crank the AC or eat burgers as much as we currently do? So, when it comes to using your phone for longer than the common two to three years of most people, or choosing slow-boat shipping, you may not see why it matters.  

We really need to own the entire cost-strain that exists with the things we buy and use. The massive expense to produce, package, ship, market, and power your latest gadget cannot be overstated. And this can be a real shock if you’re not prepared for it.

So, how can we change this?

The realization that any consumption already starts with a negative emotional quotient should make us hyper-aware of the things we can do to change that equation for the better. For instance, we can seek to extend the life of our devices, consume less through reuse, or choose the longer shipping method. In a plethora of overwhelming options, these three things give you something tangible to do that will significantly affect our climate positively. So, consider waiting a few extra days for that Amazon order to arrive—at least, until they come up with a greener shipping method

Hero Image ©: Forbes


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