How Green is Shopping Online?

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Shopping can be a hassle, especially during the holiday season. There are traffic jams and long lines at every cashier’s counter, and stores are extra busy and packed. It’s tempting to just avoid these stressors by shopping online, but is online shopping good for the planet? Here we will look at the pros and cons of online shopping.

Some of the benefits of shopping online include:

– By shopping online, you can avoid driving and save on gas, avoid getting caught in traffic and spend more time looking for the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

– You have more opportunity to be picky about where your items were made, by whom, and how. When you show in local malls or boutiques, you are limited to their inventory. Most online stores will give you a little extra information about the products being sold.

– You can save on armloads of paper and plastic shopping bags.

– You can find and support a greater variety of stores online that are doing good things for the environment, as well as a greater variety of items.

The greatest downside to online shopping is the fact that items purchased have to be shipped to you. Whenever possible, request that multiple items be shipped together and try to be aware of where the item will be shipped from. If the item has to be shipped across the country (or from another country) to you, you’re not going to feel too good about your carbon impact on the environment. Either try to find the item from a store closer to you, or consider buying carbon credits to offset the emissions. If you can, also encourage sellers to reuse envelopes and bubble mailers or use recycled packaging materials.

It can be tempting to print all of your receipts when you shop online, but this is not necessary and is wasteful of paper resources. A way to save your receipts electronically, if the shopping cart you’re purchasing from doesn’t give you this option, is to copy/paste your confirmation page into a new text file on your computer (using a program like Microsoft Word or Notepad). Alternatively, simply write down all of your confirmation numbers, order prices, and the website names/urls on a single piece of paper for future reference.  Most shopping websites also have an option for you to create an account on their website, so you can log in later and acquire all of the information you need on recent purchases.

Online shopping can be a green shopping alternative if you take your time and are selective in how and where you buy.

Photo by: josunshine –

Related posts:

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  3. Hosting a Green Birthday Party for Your Kids
  4. Green Mother’s Day Gifts
  5. Best Online Carbon Footprint Calculator
  6. How to Stop Impulse Buying and Start Helping the Environment


  1. Marina says:

    The great thing about shopping online is that it’s much easier to find eco-fashion that won’t break the bank. You must check out iStorez, they have a good section on eco-friendly products and fashion. Here’s a link to the eco-fashion

  2. Ryan says:

    I don’t see how having something delivered to you is any less green than driving to a shopping mall. The delivery companies and postal companies lump large groups of packages together to ship them all at once. They don’t just throw your one measly item on the truck and deliver it directly to your house. How do you think items get to department stores near you? The same way you get items delivered to your home. Believe me, from past delivery company package loader experience, there are more than enough business related parcels being shipped to cities to keep those trucks full, and it would be completely inefficient for delivery companies to send partially full trucks cross-country with gas prices the way they are.

  3. Barbara says:

    There are upsides and downsides to on-line shopping. When items are sold in stores, they are often shipped to a warehouse and then shipped to a store and then each person that comes in to look at the item is driving to and from the location, often without making a purchase. With on-line shopping many people can view and shop without the driving around. Then the item are shipped directly to the customer. We also try to reuse boxes in good condition and recycle whenever we can. It is important that we all buy green and do what we can to lessen our environmental footprint. Buy locally grown or made products, buy organic and buy green.

  4. I think that online shopping is where the future is going and its going to be a very positive thing for the world. There are no buildings to make or tear down and no gas burned up by driving to the store. Although, there is gas burned by having something delivered the delivery guy usually has to make additional stops along the way to your house. So therefor it still saves more gas than traditional store bought items. I think that online shopping has many benefits of green living, but it can also have is disadvantages too like having to fly half way around the world unnecessarily. I am all for whatever is going to keep our earth a beautiful and safe place for our children to live.

  5. Ben Hodges says:

    Next year we will start planting a tree or bamboo for every Michael’s Original item purchased online….Also why do online stores insist on sending out by courier? Very wasteful…MO ships by the green snail mail, takes a bit longer, costs you less and is way better for the environment….

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