Sustainable online shopping is becoming more and more the norm, despite some of the biggest companies in the world being so slow to adjust. Whereas years ago a lot of consumers would’ve had little choice but to shop at supermarkets or high street stores, there are now an abundance of options thanks to online shopping, which makes it a lot easier to shop sustainably.
But how easy is it to commit to sustainable online shopping? The following will break down all you need to know, as well as recommend some of the best sustainable online brands.
What is a Sustainable Business?
A sustainable business is one that is conscious of the impact they are having on the environment, and is committed to ethically sourced ingredients. A lot of these companies offer refillable and reusable products, and many of them donate large portions of their profits to various charities.
Most of us are aware of Fairtrade, which ensures that the overseas workers who produced a product were paid a fair wage, but with the larger organizations you can also be looking out for GOTS certification. A manufacturer that has received said certification has followed strict environmental criteria, including the use of minimal water and renewable energy.
More and more we’re seeing every type of industry wake up to the impact they’re having on the environment- not nearly quickly enough, mind you, but there’s hope yet. In recent years we’ve seen the introduction and advancements in ethical energy, ethical fashion retailers, ethical kitchen appliances, ethical supermarkets, ethical food and drinks, ethical pet food, ethical health and beauty products, ethical coffee shops, ethical news, and ethical money.
An ethical consumer is devoted to, essentially, voting with their wallet. They research which companies to buy from, trying to choose only those companies that reflect their personal values. An ethical consumer is also more likely to boycott certain companies that have been known in the past (and the present) for unethical practices and processes.
Whether you’re simply looking out for the Fairtrade logo while you shop, or you’re taking time to research the environmental impact of certain manufacturers, every step towards sustainability you take has an impact on the environment (or, rather, a lack of an impact).
How to Be an Ethical Consumer
There are a number of changes you can make to your online shopping behavior in order to reduce your impact on the environment. One of the most simple ways is to stock up on more than just one of an item at a time, in order to make the most of your deliveries. And make sure you’re only ordering the things you actually need, to reduce the amount of emissions that are produced from importing goods.
Look for refillable and reusable products. There are a number of online stores devoted to these kinds of products rather than one-used plastics, but you can also start reusing the containers you already have for things like cleaning solutions and hygiene products. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Try to buy as little plastic as you possibly can. It’s astounding just how many products in any given store are either made with plastic or packaged in plastic. Packaging is the largest contributing factor to plastic waste, so if you do have to buy plastic, remember to recycle!
You probably already own a few reusable bags- the hard part can be actually remembering to take them with you when you’re going for a physical shop. A lot of those reusable bags are extremely compact when folded up, so if you’re constantly forgetting to bring them when you go shopping, consider always having one in your jacket pocket so you don’t have to remember.
When it comes to buying food, try to only use fruit and vegetables that are currently in season. The fruit and vegetables that are out of season were likely shipped from somewhere far across the world, leading to higher emissions.
Sustainable Online Stores
There are a wide range of online stores dedicated to sustainable products. The following are some of the most prominent ones, in various categories.
Georganics is committed to eco-friendly oral hygiene, and produces effective oral products that are accessible to all. They’re targeting the vast gap in the market for natural oral hygiene products, compared to other hygiene products like natural soaps and deodorants.
In the United Kingdom, more than 300 million used tubes of toothpaste end up in landfill every single year, not to mention all the toothbrushes. At Georganics you’ll find some of the only sustainable oral hygiene products on the market. And everything looks great, too, like their Beechwood Toothbrush with firm bristles.
Blueland offers eco-friendly cleaning products in refillable containers. Their line of products includes laundry and dishwasher tablets, powder dish soap, and cleaning & soap tablets.
Everything they sell is scientifically proven to be friendly to the environment, is made with conscious ingredients, and has eco-friendly packaging. The premise is that you buy a container from Blueland (as part of the Hand Soap Starter Set, for example) and never have to replace that container.
Also devoted to eco-friendly, refillable cleaning products, Cleancult ships their cleaning solutions in recycled milk cartons. They also offer refillable glass bottles. You’ll be able to personalize your orders and decide just which products you need and how often you’ll be wanting to refill them. All the solutions are produced using powerful biodegradable formulas, meaning there’s no toxic chemicals that can harm the environment.
You can check out their personalized bundles today, like the Complete Home Bundle, which includes a refillable all purpose cleaner spray bottle, a refillable dish soap dispenser, a refillable liquid hand soap dispenser, a refillable liquid laundry bottle, a refillable tablet jar, and all the corresponding solutions.
Conclusion: Sustainable Online Shopping Guide
There are a number of ways you can commit to sustainable online shopping. Avoid buying plastics, try to shop second-hand, reuse any suitable plastic containers, buy only what you need, and do your research. This could mean doing a quick Google of the companies you’re buying from, or it could mean calling those companies up to enquire about their efforts towards saving the planet.