Who knew? A simple click of the mouse can lead to a cleaner environment.
If you’re like most people not living in under a rock, you probably do at least some of your shopping online. Not only can you revel in the ease and expediency of e-commerce—you get to feel good about helping the environment as well. Here’s why going the e-commerce route is the eco-friendly way to shop.
In the past, you’d have to hop in your car every time you wanted to buy something. Now, you can sit in the comfort of your home and have products and services delivered to your doorstep with the click of a button. No need to step out into that pesky sunlight! And no need to drive your car all around town burning those precious fossil fuels, which of course produces climate change-inducing greenhouse gases.
You might be asking, “But doesn’t shipping to individual shoppers require a considerable amount of fuel as well?” Yes, it does, but the goods need to get shipped anyway, regardless of whether they’re going to a brick and mortar store or an individual customer—ordering from home is akin to cutting out the middleman. Also, with less people driving around there’s less traffic, which means fewer car motors idling and wasting fuel as they’re stuck in congestion.
No longer do innocent trees have to pay the price for our retail mania—all those bills, receipts, coupons etc. that were once printed on resource-intensive paper can now be transmitted via the World Wide Web. Online shoppers can receive confirmations, receipts, offers, newsletters, and bills through their e-mail, which means not only less tree cutting, but a reduction in the fuels necessary for transporting all those paper bills as well. So while your mailman might be sad about the advent of online billing, the environment is reaping the benefits.
Craigslist and eBay, two of the biggest names in e-commerce, have something in common: rather than companies selling goods to consumers, these sites feature individuals selling to individuals. Many of the products on these sites are used, which means they’re all about recycling (which, as we all know from the elementary school mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is an essential part of saving the environment). We used to rely on newspaper classifieds, garage sales, and thrift stores when seeking out less expensive, used goods—now we can search the world for whatever merchandise we want, all with the click of a button. Instead of contributing to the high rates of consumption that are dooming our planet, online shoppers can connect with a seller thousands of miles away (or just around the block) and buy used.
Brick and mortar stores require a considerable amount of resources in their normal operations—electricity, water, building space, etc. With the enterprise ecommerce software for businesses both large and small, however, no physical storefront is necessary, which means a dramatic reduction in resource consumption. Some online businesses might rent some office space to operate out of, but the needs of a small office compared to those of an actual store are considerably smaller.
Maddie Marshall is an environmental advocate writing from Santa Cruz, CA.