Oh, how we miss those days when retail therapy means staying in the mall for hours, hopping from one favorite store to another, and going out with your shopping bags full. Today, retail therapy is associated with virtual carts, delivery personnel on motorbikes, parcels covered in bubble wraps and plastic bags, and tons of boxes, piling up in our homes.
While it’s easier, more convenient, and safer during the pandemic era, the growing popularity of online shopping is raising environmental concerns. An increasing number of consumers are beginning to look for alternative ways to lessen the environmental impact while shopping online.
Be honest: how many items are in your online shopping cart right now? How many items are you anticipating this week? How often do you order ready-to-eat food and groceries online? Now, how often do you feel guilty when you see the plastic bags, bubble wrappers, and boxes lying around your house, that you know will eventually end up in the landfill?
We do not discriminate here. In fact, we’re here to tell you that you’re not alone. Together, we can shop online while making the world a better place with our buying choices.
From choosing plastic-free packaging to opting for sustainable seafood markets, check out these 10 environmentally-friendly online shopping tips you can use for your next purchase.
1. Reduce your plastic consumption
Plastic materials are often used to ensure your items won’t get damaged along the way. However, you can still do something to curb plastic consumption while keeping your items securely packed.
Contact the company and ask if they have alternative packaging options to reduce waste. For example, you can leave a note, saying that you want to reduce the amount of plastic in your orders. Not-so-fragile items can skip the bubble wrap packaging. Alternatives may include magazines, cardboard, and air pillows.
If they use 100% biodegradable, recyclable packaging, it would be better.
The same goes for food deliveries. If possible, ask if they can ditch the plastic utensils, plastic bags, and styro packaging. You’ll eat with your own utensils at home anyway to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
2. Patronize eco-friendly retailers
Aside from eco-friendly packaging, you should patronize organizations and individuals that sell sustainable products. There are certifications like organic and fair-trade which indicate that their products have a higher degree of environmental and ethical transparency.
These sellers, from micro-businesses to big corporations, always have the means to go greener and opt for more ethical, sustainable practices.
3. Opt for sustainable food
Planning to order from a stock of seafood from an online seafood shop? Aside from making sure the packaging is eco-friendly, you can go the extra mile by checking whether or not they’re sustainably farmed.
Only transact with reputable sellers with such standards. Aside from seafood, check your other suppliers of fresh produce. Patronize suppliers with sustainable farming methods and eco-friendly packaging.
4. Skip express shipping methods, if possible
Express shipping of items overseas might seem like a convenient option, same-day delivery may incorporate air travel, leading to higher carbon emissions. Can your items wait? Is it essential? Can it be purchased with other items in bulk? If you’re not really in a hurry, opting for slower shipping methods is an easy way to go green. If possible, hunt for local sellers that can ship items from short distances.
5. Pick up, if necessary
If you’re looking for the greenest way to shop local items, consider shopping in person (when it’s safe to go out, of course). If the store is near, you can browse their online catalog and go to the physical store or meet up with the seller to pick up the item.
6. Reuse your plastic bags
Remember your three Rs? Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Next to reducing your plastic waste, be careful when tearing your packages apart. You can still do something to reuse and recycle them.
You can skip buying garbage bags and use them instead. If you’re feeling a bit creative, you can recycle them into fashionable bags, rugs, woven baskets, and other products.
7. Or donate them
If you feel like you can’t reduce, reuse, and recycle, look for organizations that do. A growing number of eco-friendly organizations are accepting plastic and other non-biodegradable materials, like online shopping packaging.
8. Consolidate your purchases
Avoid multiple orders and impulse buying. Rather, try to consolidate your purchases into one single order. Instead of shopping from multiple sellers and receive multiple parcels, try to check if one seller has all the items you might need. Chances are that they’ll pack your items in a single box. You’ll save money from the shipping costs too.
9. Purchase in bulk
Bulk purchases aren’t just cost-efficient — they also help decrease the environmental footprint of your purchases. They can decrease travel costs and even reduce single-use plastic and packaging.
10. Curb impulse buying and overspending
When a world of options is in your hands (literally), it’s easy to buy out of impulse and overspend. Sometimes, we buy a couple of unnecessary stuff out of boredom, sadness, happiness, and other strong emotions. And when the euphoria rush from impulse buying fades and buyer’s remorse takes over, it’s often too late to cancel your orders.
Avoid impulse, unnecessary purchases by creating a wish list of only the essential items. You should also keep your emotions in check. Ask yourself multiple times if you need the item ASAP. Is it a necessity? Do you have a place for it in your home? Will you survive if you don’t buy it immediately? Can it wait? You may leave the items in the cart and check out a couple of days after when you have a clearer mind.
Ready for your next purchase? We hope these tips inspired you to be extra mindful of the environmental impact of online shopping.
Sharing is caring. Feel free to spread the word and motivate others to make eco-friendly choices too!
Author Bio: Mina Natividad is a passionate daytime writer for Manettas Seafood Market, an online and interactive seafood delivery service which provides customers a true, first-class fish market experience without leaving home. Since she’s a seafood lover herself, she’s got a lot to say about food, well-being, and lifestyle.