Food & Drink

Sustainable Online Shopping


I’ve talked in my post before about how no matter how careful we are at reducing our waste, we will inevitably be contributing to the production of waste (whether it be a little or a lot) as long as we are consuming it.  One guilty party is online shopping.  Fact: we live in the digital age.  So much of what we do is taken off the streets and onto the web.  Shopping is one of those things.  I don’t online shop often, but I do have an Amazon Prime account.  Why?  I’m a piano teacher and there is absolutely no music store near my area where I can get a wide range of piano method books for my students.  So I try to stock up on them when I attend annual conventions and conferences.  Regardless, I will run into times througout the year where I need to shop online.  That’s where Amazon or other online retailers come in.

I started thinking about how I can reduce my waste when it came to online shopping.  Most online retailers will package everything in plastic bubble wrap.  Even if you recycle all packaging materials, there will still be energy and resources spent to recycle these into new materials.

How can we shop more sustainably?  The obvious answer is to limit your online shopping.  Don’t be lazy.  Visiting a brick-and-mortar store can save that plastic bubble wrap and cardboard box your item will inevitably be shipped in.

But I understand that that’s not always the case.  Like I mentioned before with my piano method books, I turn to online retailers such as Amazon to supply my needs.  I used to just crush the cardboard boxes and toss in the recycling bin (same goes for all the plastic packaging).  But I’ve since realized that I’m skipping a few steps in the cycle to be more sustainable.  So now I’m sharing with you a few tips you can easily incorporate into your online shopping experience to be a little bit more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

  1. Before purchasing an item, make sure you make it clear to them that you want your items to be packaged in paper packaging.  They will usually throw in crumpled kraft paper in lieu of plastic bubble wrap.  I reuse the kraft paper as gift wrap or compost if it’s torn or too wrinkly.
  2. Sometimes companies will still give you plastic bubble wrap or foam peanuts.  That’s okay!  Save them up and take it to your local UPS store.  They will reuse the packing materials.
  3. If you receive packaging that is hard to recycle, such as those manila envelopes with bubble wrap, don’t fret.  I carefully cut the package open so that the packaging is still in really good shape.  I save them to reuse for my own purpose.  Those packaging are expensive at normal retailers, they usually are $1/each!
  4. Same goes for cardboard boxes.  I save them.  Except I find that I don’t use them as much.  So once I have about 10 cardboard boxes or so, I list a Craigslist ad.  Typically, people who are eBay sellers or people who are moving will love cardboard boxes of various shapes and sizes.


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