Before I thought of doing an online shop I was skeptical that online shopping could be eco-friendly. Buying online may not be the perfect way to shop sustainably, but if it prevents waste and more shipping in the long-run it is absolutely a better alternative. We just have to understand how to buy well when buying online.
Going zero waste you are lowering your carbon footprint simply by purchasing something only once that you are going to use again and again. I definitely think if it can be bought locally, especially grown or made locally, that is always the best way to go. However, buying things online that you use or need on a regular basis, like groceries, may not be the best habit to pick up since those items often require extra truck trips, resources and packaging to get to you via FedEx or UPS.
I chose only to carry items that would otherwise be hard to find in stores near you. For example, most people can find local soaps near them but may have a hard time finding sustainably packaged shampoo or conditioner.
O U R S H I P P I N G P R A C T I C E S
WE ONLY USE USPS
I chose to mail solely through USPS. They already come to your mailbox every day so that means no extra trips to you from a big FedEx or UPS truck. I might not have the math on the benefits there but I'm sure you can use your imagination ;)
ALL RECYCLED, OR REUSED - COMPOSTABLE MATERIALS
Thanks to the company Eco Enclose, and leftover packaging materials from wholesale orders, we ship in recycled, or reused, compostable materials. We reuse anything that comes to us and hope you'll be inspired to do the same! No plastics, ever. Even any clear tape we use is made of natural cellulose and will break down easily.
S H O P P I N G E V E R Y W H E R E E L S E
I like to personally order from companies that are really transparent about where their products are made, who makes them, how they source their materials and how they pack things. If I can't find that information, I ask. It's not always easy to wait for a response but companies need to know that their customers are paying attention to more than just how the consumers needs and wants are going to be met.
LET'S TALK ABOUT AMAZON...
Amazon's goal is to get you all things you could ever want or need as fast as possible. That means more planes and lots and lots of gas. But like I said, not all things are available to you locally. So, If you have to order on Amazon, like I sometimes do, here are a few tips for how to do it a little more eco-friendly:
First, You can email Customer Service (email@example.com) and ask them to make a note on your account to avoid any extra packaging or plastic packaging when possible. Unfortunately there isn't a way to do this through your account. *eye roll*. It may still be up to a distributor as to whether or not they follow through but at least they will try. I still send separate messages to sellers when I place an order, just in case.
You can also leave packaging feedback once you receive an order here.
Second, if you can wait, then do so. Getting something from across the country to you in two days takes a lot of unnecessary resources. The thought of having what we want right when we want it seems nice but it comes with a cost.
Check out this study done by the University of California:
I LOVE good second-hand or handmade products. I love eBay and Etsy because you can find items that aren't too far from you and message sellers directly to ask questions about how they make, pack and ship. I've messaged people plenty of times and asked them to ship plastic free. I don't always get a reply but most have been kind enough to honor my request.
We LOVE Life Without Plastic! They carry a wide variety of plastic free items from various companies and ship without plastic.
Juniper Seed Mercantile sells everything from sunscreen in a compostable tube to cotton facial rounds and reusable paper towels. Everything is handmade in small batches and comes in reusable or compostable containers.
Local Harvest isn't an online shop but they are a great online resource for local food near you. The rise of online grocery shopping is drawing people further away from knowing their food source. Local Harvest connects you with real, healthy food grown near you, by real humans.
Need to recycle plastic after receiving an order online you were hoping wasn't going to show up with plastic?? You can find plastic film recycling centers near you at PlasticFilmRecycling.org
Maybe some day we'll go back to communities that are able to buy and source locally. It would be amazing to see cities really invest in the gifts, talents and resources available in their own region.
Do you have any ideas on how to ship food products without plastic? Recently I placed an order for vanilla beans on Etsy and asked them to please use minimal packaging materials and/or biodegradable/recylable/compostable materials. They were very helpful and wrapped the beans in waxed paper, which I assumed was compostable, until I did some research and found out that it usually contains synthetic additives derived from petroleum and therefore is not recommended for composting.