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Is online shopping environmentally friendly?

August 13, 2020 2 min read

Is online shopping environmentally friendly?

We've often wondered, is it better for the environment to shop in store, or online? So we set about researching this very question, and it's a complex one.

But let us start by saying, there’s one thing we’re really passionate about at Natural Supply Co, and that's the environment. We work really hard to use sustainable practices in every part of our business, from reusing or recycling everything we possibly can (which you may have noticed when you've received an order from us in a random box!) to wearing extra layers to reduce energy bills.

As an extension of this, we’ve recently teamed up with New Zealand eco-company CarbonClick, who are making it easier for businesses (and people!) to help fight climate change. CarbonClick looks like a green button at our checkout, and when you click it, $2 is added to your shopping basket to purchase carbon offsets. You can purchase additional offsets as well, if you'd like to.

These offsets reduce the environmental impact of the carbon emissions related to the purchase, making online shopping more environmentally friendly by funding forest restoration, tree planting, and renewable energy projects around the world.

But back to the original question.

A 2013 study from MIT that looked at the environmental analysis of online shopping, suggests that it's far more eco-friendly than shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. The study actually concluded that shoppers who completed their entire buying processes online (not shopping in store at all) had a carbon footprint almost two times smaller than a traditional shopper. 

However, we know that packaging in online orders plays a part (not many retailers reuse packing materials in the same way that we do - I am looking at you, Target and Myer etc, who use ginormous boxes with so much bubble wrap, when a much smaller box would have done the job!). More and more compostable or recyclable packaging options are becoming available though, and more online retailers seem to be adopting these options, which is amazing!

The absolute best thing you can do for the environment is to buy all local products, while getting to the shops on foot or by bike; or by only stopping at shops that are on your fixed routes, such as on the way to work or school drop offs. But we know that's not always possible, so our research tells us that combining shopping locally, with online purchases for things you can't get locally, is the most environmentally friendly way to shop. 

At Natural Supply Co, we’re proud to be a small local business, and we're committed to continuing the fight against climate change within our ethical online business. We’ll continually look for ways to improve our practices in reducing our carbon footprint, including reusing packaging materials for online orders. And for our local customers, we are delighted to be able to welcome you in store at our store in Geelong.


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