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Is Online Shopping Better for the Environment than Store Shopping? 35% of Americans Think So.

If you can shop from home on the internet, why go to a store?

If you can shop from home on the internet and help the planet, why go to a store?

Is environmental responsibility beginning to trump convenience, product selection and price as a reason to shop online?

Shop.org recently published a survey that said 35% of respondents believed that online shopping is better for the environment than store shopping. Wait, it gets even better for online stores. 60% of those who believe they are being greener by shopping online plan to shop more often on the web versus traveling to a store.

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Other notable stats from the emarketer.com article include:

  1. The Green E-Commerce: Gaining Momentum report traces the many ways the Internet is spurring eco-consumerism and how brand marketers are responding.
  2. The recession has surprisingly little effect on buying green. Eight out of 10 respondents in a Cone survey said they planned to spend at least as much on green products today as they did in the past.
  3. Manufacturers more than doubled the number of eco-friendly product launches in 2008 compared with ’07, according to Datamonitor.

So, I put the “Green Online Shopping” mentality to the test and asked our staff why and where they shop online.

Tarah Eland, Production Manager: My favorite online store. . .Etsy is an absolutely lovely site :o ). They sell everything hand made. I would think it’s green! I don’t have to use gas to get myself to the store and there are more green products at your fingertips that aren’t available in stores nearby.

Kim Hodge, Film & Video Manager: My favorite on line shopping store is a UK based department store called John Lewis www.johnlewis.co.uk they offer everything from furniture to baby gifts to glorious handbags.  They provide free standard shipping within the UK right up to Christmas, so even relatively last minute gifts to my family are easy to choose and delivered on time to get under the tree for Christmas Day.   It saves me a bundle on international shipping, and time in line at the post office.  Green?  You bet I think it’s greener.

Jon Hrach Web Designer: Great topic. I assume it uses less resources to shop online since you don’t have to physically drive yourself to the store, but the product still has to be delivered to your house, so I’m not sure. bhphotovideo.com: good prices and used equipment. Interesting note: B&H is a Jewish business, and doesn’t do business on Saturdays. Their online store is actually closed on the Sabbath. Newegg.com: Good prices on computer hardware. I guess most of my online shopping is motivated by price.

Leslie Quinn, Bookkeeper: My daughter is a ballet dancer and goes through about 2 pair of pointe shoes a month…  We purchase through discountdancesupply.com who sells them for approx $15-$20 less than any of the dance stores (although still quite expensive at $55/shoe)  here in the Valley.  They usually ship within a few days and she can expect them at our door within the week.  It’s been a beautiful thing, and a savings of both time and money!!!

Tiffany Franquemont, Account Intern from Univeristy of Missouri: My favorite online store is Forever21.com.  Shipping is free after spending $75 or more and it’s quick. After I buy clothes from the website, my clothes are at the front door within days. I think that buying online is the green thing to do because it is a gasoline saver. With the gasoline prices rising, shopping online not only saves consumers money, it reduces fuel burning.

threadlessParker Howell, Video Intern from Chapman University: Threadless.com. Though, oddly enough, I’ve never bought anything from there. Does that count? I like the community, both looking at others’ designs and showing off my own.

Josh Feig, Interactive Writer: I really dig iTunes. I think it’s still the best, most usable online store there is.

Got a favorite site where you shop? Do you think online shopping is the green thing to do? Let us know below.

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8 Comments On This Topic
  1. Reena Kazmann posted
    June 18, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I shop online for convenience — it saves time, mostly. If stores offer an option to ship via USPS, I take it because that is the most eco-friendly option. Their materials (including stamps) are made from recycled materials and are recyclable. They are coming to all neighborhoods anyway. I have used them to ship most of my store’s products for 10 years and they have a good track record.

    I also shop online to find the most eco-friendly option (be it rugs or clothes….). Shopping online provides more choices than available in my neighborhood and generally I can find one that is somewhat, if not totally, green.

    Shopping online can provide more information about the product I want than I usually encounter in the stores (except in the smaller ones). Provides data for me to make purchasing decisions.

  2. Carla posted
    July 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I think it really depends on where you live and whats available. For me, I live in an area where its easy to shop local (though most big ticket items are purchased online). I guess walking (and even our car) uses less gas than the UPS truck.

    On the other hand, our shipments are all being delivered at the same place which is a mailbox service for our businesses so its not like UPS/FedEX/USPS, etc wouldn’t drive to that location if we didn’t order online. Having it delivered directly to our house is a different story since we live somewhat out of the way in the hills.

    I guess it depends on where you live, and whats available to you in your immediate area.

  3. exchangeandmart posted
    July 30, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for this, really helpful information. Exchange and mart is another good online venue to buy and sell safely, specializing in cars but lots of other stuff too, from home and DIY to fashion and clothing as well as baby goods .http://www.exchangeandmart.co.uk/

  4. Dennis Cheslik posted
    July 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    EBay has to be considered one of greenest online shopping links. It accompishes the 3 R’s: Reduce production by Recycling goods so they are Reused.

  5. Park posted
    July 31, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Great point, Dennis. eBay is the epitome of a great use of the web to balance commerce and ecology. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Park posted
    July 31, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Hi ExchangeAndMart.co.uk. Thanks for letting me know of your site. I will definitely take a look. Have a great weekend.

  7. Eric Novinson posted
    March 7, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Another benefit you might not have mentioned. Brick and mortar retailers have to guess at what their customers want to buy and order a lot of extra items that may be returned and destroyed if they aren’t purchased. Ordering online allows a retailer to know exactly what to order very quickly, so they don’t waste as many resources ordering items that aren’t in demand. It’s also a lot easier to do comparison shopping without having to drive around to check out what is available in each store. For people worried about the heavy delivery truck, many retailer websites also will tell you if an item is in stock at local stores.

  8. Mary posted
    April 20, 2010 at 12:43 am

    I’ve just stumbled this post, thank you for sharing.


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