The holiday and festival season all across the globe indicates an increase in online and offline shopping trends every year. Even as dark clouds of a strained global economy loom over people’s life, they wish to celebrate after two tough years of Covid-19 induced restrictions. According to IBM, holiday shopping started early this year, with 58% of consumers planning to begin buying before November.
This is up from 44% last year, demonstrating a massive shift away from the traditional Black Friday start of the shopping season. Due to expectations of supply chain disruption and price hikes, almost 2 in 3 shoppers are pre-ordering this holiday season. However, the truth about Online shopping is that all those trucks delivering our beloved products can harm the environment and us.
Global e-commerce trends might have tremendously grown in the past decade and have led to a reduction in people visiting malls and stores. The Covid-19 Pandemic has pushed these trends even further, triggering changes in consumer behavior. The E-Commerce industry dominated by Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba pressurizes people to buy even more under the spell of discounts during Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales.
However, the environmental cost of getting products from the warehouse to your door can be high. Trucks and vans making last-minute deliveries are estimated to produce more carbon dioxide annually than burning four and half billion pounds of coal. According to consumer reports, this is not just bad for the environment; we breathe in the harmful fumes from delivery vans and trucks. The shipping costs of the products we order online might be lower than the actual environmental cost of these home deliveries.
The packaging of products also contributes to the downside of online shopping. It leads to a rise in CO2 emissions. Not only packaging but the transportation of packages in e-commerce shopping also contributes to CO2 emissions. In 2020, the shipping and return of products accounted for 37% of the total GHG emissions. According to reports, By 2030, the number of delivery vehicles will increase by 36%, which will inadvertently cause a tremendous rise in CO2 emissions, vehicle commutes, and traffic congestion.
A study from MIT found that traditional shopping has two times the carbon footprint compared to online shopping. However, the concept of one-day deliveries and returns lies in juxtaposition with this. When consumers request fast deliveries, emissions exceed those generated from in-person shopping. The problem is not just delivery but consumers demanding the return of products for free.
Piles of cardboard and tons of delivery trucks are changing the environmental equation. Due to the increase In ‘producer responsibility,’ E-Commerce businesses are shifting towards sustainability. However, the problem cannot be solved unless there is a paradigm shift in consumers’ behavior as they choose convenience over principles. Experts feel the best way to shop is to ‘think before you click. Buyers should be more mindful of what and how much they are buying. Being patient and consolidating your order in one may also lead to a decrease in carbon footprint at an individual level.