Is online shopping bad for the environment? Most people feel the answer is probably yes.
But the real answer might surprise you!
Studies have shown that the carbon footprint of online shopping is smaller than that of traditional shopping.
Why is this?
With online shopping, a single delivery truck can replace multiple car trips, by multiple households, to shops. Clearly, one truck delivering 100 packages is much more efficient than 100 people driving to the shops.
But there’s a catch!
It is only better for the environment if retailers and consumers make the right choices…
The problem is, the efficiency (and therefore emission savings) of the process starts to breakdown when consumers opt for fast delivery options. Fast delivery options require that the retailer send multiple vehicles many times, on multiple days, to the same location. This means delivery vehicles can go from 80% full to just 10% or 20% full, undermining the potential efficiency and emissions benefits of online shopping.
3 ways to turn online shopping into a power for good
Whether online shopping is better or worse for the environment depends on consumer and retailer behaviour. Experts agree that it can actually have a lower carbon footprint if we follow these three steps:
1. Choose slow delivery options
By choosing slower delivery options (instead of same-day or next day delivery) you’re giving the retailer room to choose the most efficient way of delivering your items by consolidating multiple orders together.
2. Use online shopping to replace (not supplement) in-store shopping
When we online shop in addition to (rather than substitute for) our in-store shopping, we essentially turn one shopping trip into two. For example, buying half of your groceries online and then driving to a supermarket for the other half, means you’ve put two vehicles on the road when one would have sufficed. You've actually added to your carbon footprint, rather than reduced it.
3. Group orders together
Since every online purchase puts a delivery vehicle on the road, it’s best to order multiple items at the same time. This enables retailers to pack all of the items into a single box (or at least all items into the same vehicle), so that you’ve done all of your shopping in a single “trip.” Ordering one or two items at a time eliminates that efficiency, because each order adds another delivery trip.
how Pet Impact is playing it’s part to make online shopping a power for good
At Pet Impact, we are constantly looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact. We recognise that as an online business we have the potential to reduce emissions associated with shopping.
1. Slow delivery options
You may have already noticed, but we don’t offer a next day delivery option on our website. This allows us to reduce the number of pick ups by our couriers and therefore increase the efficiency of the process, meaning our courier makes less trips with fuller vehicles. Studies have shown that the majority of people are actually not as impatient as they seem and are willing to wait for items as long as they know when they arrive.
2. Efficient packaging
We make every effort to reduce and reuse our packaging. All our packaging is recyclable or compostable. We reduce unnecessary packaging For example, many of our products are designed so that they can be sent in 1 cardboard box containing the item. We will only double package items when multiple items have been ordered, if the order is to be given as a gift (as indicated on check out) or if it is a fragile item, like our bamboo bowls.
3. Green couriers with electric vehicles
We currently use Royal mail and UPS to deliver our products. Currently Royal mail is believed to be one of the most ‘green’ couriers with the largest electric fleet in the UK. We are making plans to switch from UPS to DPD due to DPD’s green credentials.