Online Shopping vs. Traditional Shopping: Environmental Impacts

Written by TerraPass


It’s on! The mad rush for holiday gift shopping is in full swing. If you’re looking to avoid the masses at the shopping mall and plan to check your list from the comfort of your computer screen, keep in mind that that online shopping also takes its toll on the planet. Online Shopping vs. Traditional Shopping: Environmental Impacts

Both online shopping and traditional shopping methods carve out a carbon footprint. The eco-friendly component of both shopping methods depends on a number of factors, including the distance the product travelled to arrive at destination, travel methods used, type of fuel expended, number of people who carpool to shopping destination, logistics involved in getting product to retail or at-home delivery, rural vs. urban delivery and the number of additional drop-offs in the immediate vicinity, rate of product return and the environmental cost of packaging, just to name a few.

Online Shopping vs. Traditional Shopping: Environmental Impacts Traditional shopping’s eco-friendly factor is often contingent upon each particular shopper’s habits and their purchasing behavior.  Alternatively, each online purchase you make has its own logistics involved (which can become quite complex) and more recently, the express and same-day deliveries make the shopping experience less eco-friendly.

Online Shopping vs. Traditional Shopping: Environmental Impacts For now, there’s no clear way to determine whether indulging in Cyber Monday deals and shopping online, in general, is better or worse for the environment, as each online purchase has its own particular carbon footprint.  Although there are clear benefits to online shopping, the science of delivering online purchases is not yet perfected to show it as the clear winner in the carbon footprint game.
But in truth, when considering the fight between online and brick and mortar shopping, the real concern shouldn’t be which has the smaller carbon footprint, but rather, how can we reduce the carbon footprint of both shopping experiences.

One of the best ways to reduce your shopping carbon footprint is to purchase carbon offsets from TerraPass. Using the TerraPass carbon calculator, you can determine that a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles (a possible route your Cyber Monday purchases may travel) emits 2,295 pounds of carbon dioxide. For less than $20, you can offset the emissions from the transport of your purchase and support green energy projects around the country that help reduce climate change.

To ensure a more eco-friendly holiday, gift your friends and relatives the TerraPass Festive Bundle. This package includes a holiday certificate, a Climate Change Chocolate Bar and it offsets 10,000 pounds of carbon emissions – the equivalent of taking one passenger car off the road for an entire year or carbon-balancing the electricity consumed by an average household during a six-month period. Holiday shopping done, with no regrets.

And for both holiday and year-round shopping, give the Gift of TerraPass by purchasing offsets for birthday gifts, sweet 16 soirees, bar and bat mitzvahs, parties, weddings and anniversaries.

For more eco-friendly holiday advice to serve you through the rest of the year and into 2017, stay connected to the TerraPass Footprint Blog. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’re always sharing tips and information on living an eco-friendly, green lifestyle.


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