How sustainable are your online purchases?

It may be hard to think of how you can help the ongoing fight for the environment from the confines of your home, but looking at one thing a lot of us are splurging on at the moment—online shopping—is a good place to start. (Image source: Medium)  

By Nikita Skuse | @nikita_skuse

You’ve probably seen the memes about how you thought being in isolation would send your savings through the roof, but instead you have five deliveries awaiting collection from the post office because of your newly formed online shopping addiction. And they probably hit a little too close to home for most us, am I right?

No judgement here, as long as you’re considering the environment in the process.

Sustainable shopping is a crucial aspect of helping out the environment and just because we aren’t physically entering shops anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t practice it in the online world.

Sustainability Victoria, an Australian organisation that promotes environmental sustainability, states on its website that sustainable shopping recognises everything we buy has health, environmental and social impacts.

“This approach starts with the raw materials used to create a product and includes the manufacturing process, packaging and ultimate disposal of each item, including any transportation required throughout its lifecycle,” its website states.

Ellie Everett is a small business owner from Adelaide and she prides her skincare business, Nudie Beauty, on being sustainable.

She said the well-being of the environment should be people’s main reason for considering sustainable online purchases.

“It’s a very important thing to personally care for the environment,” she said.

Ellie uses a minimal packaging technique for her Nudie Beauty products and tries to get all her supplies from sustainable sources, as well as using things such as biodegradable cellophane, recycled cardboard and thank you notes printed on seed cards that you can grow your own plants from.

“I think personally it’s such a big deal because I’ve always considered myself a very environmentally conscious person, so to carry that over to my business was obviously something that happened very naturally,” she said.

“As I’ve developed personally, as I’ve gotten older and done my research more and become enlightened to ways in which I can become more sustainable, I’ve found that I’m slowly beginning to adapt to that.”

Ellie said online business has been booming since we’ve all been forced to stay inside and the sound of tape crinkling over our phone call as she packed up her deliveries for the day seemed to be a pretty good testament to that.

“I did get quite a considerable influx of orders a couple of weeks back and then again about a week after,” Ellie said.

“It was considerably a lot more than I was ever used to.

“It was a good learning experience and prepared me, I guess, for what could potentially be the future situation.”

Ellie said money plays a bigger role in running a sustainable business than people may realise and that this affects her ability to make her business as green as she’d like.

“If I had all the money in the world, I could make the business as green [as possible], it could be absolutely perfect in terms of sustainability,” she said.

“It is something that I do prioritise when I am able to financially afford it.”

Increased production and packaging costs almost always translate to increased product prices and Ellie said that she is “really, really appreciative” when people make the choice to spend that little bit extra to shop sustainably.

“People … they can go out and get a Dove soap or one of the Woolies ten packs of bars … a bar filled with synthetic fragrances, chemicals, wrapped in plastic and with an extra packaging box which is totally unnecessary,” she said.

“Or, you could spend the extra couple dollars and get a soap that is actually really good for you … and then you’re not left with all this excess packaging which is just probably going to end up in landfill and you’re also supporting a person behind the business.

“So, I think it’s very important for people to, if they can, support local and small businesses that are trying to make a difference.”

 

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