In this EnvironMental episode, Courtney answered the question: Which is more sustainable, shopping retail vs ecommerce?
As per usual, there’s no cut and dry answer here. It totally depends on how you’re getting to and from the shop and your online purchasing (and return) behavior. Finally! Something we can have an impact on with our consumer behavior!
When it comes to shopping online or in person, neither is inherently more sustainable. It’s the way we shop that matters!
How to Choose Retail vs Ecommerce
If you’re not sure how items will fit, shop in person!
This will significantly reduce the amount of returns, which is a huge factor in the sustainability of shopping online. The emissions of returning items through the mail vastly outweigh the single drive to the mall.
If you have to drive far away, shop online
Last mile transportation is the biggest difference between retail vs ecommerce shopping. So transportation for a single item, for a single person, in a single car contributes the highest level of emissions.
Bundle Online Items
When you shop online, try to bundle multiple items together to reduce packaging waste. Additionally, because your mail carrier is focused on efficient route creation and multiple deliveries, you can cut down on last mile emissions by ordering online.
Choose Slow Shipping
If you choose priority shipping, and it needs to go on a plane to reach you, that plane will fly regardless if that plane is full. When you choose the slowest shipping option, you avoid excess carbon emissions in your last mile shipping. Shipping businesses want to make sure that their cargo holds are as full as possible for efficiency.