Our entire modern lifestyle is based on consumption and instant gratification. From Amazon’s launch of 1-day delivery to our holidays transitioning into little more than mass purchasing sprees, we all seem to want far more than we could ever need or use. As it grows ever-easier for retailers to reach us, it is more important than ever for us all to focus on reducing our shopping carbon footprint and waste.
Below we break down how to do this.
Top Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint from Shopping
#1 – Buy Less
The average American spends $18,000 per year on non-essential items. This is a tremendous waste of money, precious resources and materials, and carbon emissions and equivalents (‘CO2e’). The absolute best thing you can do to reduce your impact and save money is buy a lot less. We know it’s tough – especially for parents – but it’s really important. The amount of non-essentials purchased and waste created by parents and children is both staggering and nauseating.
For each purchase you do not make from a physical store, you reduce your impact by -7 LBS CO2e, on average.
For each purchase you do not make online, you reduce your impact by -3.3 LBS CO2e, on average.
#2 – Buy Used
Buying second-hand products reduces over-production, waste, and carbon emissions, while saving you money.
By purchasing a used (instead of new) couch or other large piece of furniture, you can reduce your footprint by around -154 LBS of CO2e according to the Fira Carbon Footprinting Study.
By purchasing used (instead of new) laptops, or other similar electronics, you can reduce your footprint by around -550 LBS of CO2e.
By purchasing used (instead of new) clothing, you can reduce your footprint by around -5 LBS of CO2e per clothing item.
#3 – If You Can’t Walk or Bike to the Store, Buy Online
Although both online and brick-and-mortar shopping have environmental consequences, in most situations, online shopping is the more eco-friendly option. However, this varies a good bit based on buyers’ behaviors. If you want to reduce your shopping footprint, buy less, buy online using non-rush shipping methods, and walk or bike when buying items in stores.
You reduce your footprint by nearly -6 LBS CO2e by walking to the store.
You reduce your footprint by -3.7 LBS CO2e, on average, by purchasing online.
#4 – Forego Rushed Shipping
Most of the time, you don’t need to receive your items in 3 days or less. You reduce your footprint by around -1 LB CO2e, on average, each time you forego rushed (i.e. 3 days or under) shipping and opt for more traditional methods. In fact, the US Postal Service is one of the greener shipping options. When possible, choose USPS instead of FedEx or UPS.
To better understand CO2 emissions generated by shopping and other activities and how to offset them, see our carbon emissions calculator.