Another Reason to Shop Online: the Environment


What:You may recall a story from a while back about the negative environmental impact of Google searches (something you’d probably take for granted). However, it was still concluded at the time that “if your internet use is in place of more energy-intensive activities, such as driving your car to the shops, that’s good” – and now a study from Carnegie Mellon University is echoing this. Carnegie took a hard look at’s ecommerce business model and compared it to the traditional way of doing things (ship products to a store by air/car, customers drive to store to buy products, and then drive back to their homes). The result? Shopping online is eco-friendlier than shopping offline.

What They Say:

“Today, Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute released a study showing that shopping online via’s e-commerce model reduces environmental impact with 35 percent less energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions compared to the traditional retail shopping model.”

What We Say: This certainly isn’t a hard study to swallow, but it starts to get complicated when you think of other online shopping venues. For instance, does shopping online at save energy as compared to shopping at Old Navy’s actual store – or does the fact that the retailer’s on and offline, anyways, sort of cancel out the “greenness” of your efforts? And what about eBay and Craigslist – where you can’t easily measure how users package and deliver products to each other? Anyways, we’re glad to hear that shopping online is saving energy, since it usually saves us money, too.

Will a study like this make you shop online more often than before or will you just do what you’ve always done, but feel a bit more self-rightous when browsing the web for a new dress?

If you love the environment as much as a new pair of shoes, read more on green shopping.

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  1. LaraZhivago says

    Here is a way to shop online, and put money directly in the hands of those who are making the items you purchase.  It is called, and here is my storefront featuring handmade hair bandeaus (headbands):

    By buying on Etsy, you are helping the environment even more by eliminating the warehouse or middle seller step.

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