Is Online Shopping Better for the Environment Than Going to the Store?

Young African Woman Shopping Online With Debit Card
Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Hooked on online shopping? It’s all right, you’re not alone. In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that second quarter online retail sales had risen by 15.8 percent from the previous year. Globally, these sales figures are said to be growing at a rate three times faster than GDP. And unfortunately, like many habits, there’s a potential downside.

The question is about sustainability.

Before focusing on the downsides, of which there are many, let’s first look at how online shopping can have a more positive impact on the environment.

When it comes to click-buying, convenience is king. In saving you a trip to the store, online shopping has the potential to reduce cars on the road. Less cars means less emissions, and with a good system in place, a greater efficiency in delivering goods to consumers direct from warehouses to their doors, cutting out the need to first distribute to stores.

“Larger vehicles are operated by fleet operators who pay attention to their bottom line,” said Gregory Shaver, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. As Shaver notes, this means that fleets are designed to “efficiently move goods,” which “translates to less fuel use. With less fuel usage, there are less carbon dioxide emissions and less greenhouse gases,” he said.

That’s not to mention…


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