The convenience associated with online retail shopping is untenable. From apparel to the meal-kit industry, it is almost impossible to point out sectors that have not yet shifted to e-commerce. Furthermore, it isn’t news that online shopping involves a large amount of plastic waste generation, be it zip locks, bubble wrap, or branded bags, and while we all realise the environmental cost that needs to be paid for them, we often tend to turn a blind eye to give priority to our personal comfort.
Retailers all over the world have been trying to come up with innovative ways to enable sustainable online shopping. Options like ‘return from home’* and ‘return on the go’* are on the works to be successfully implemented, and initiatives – to spread awareness among consumers and ensure plastic packaging in the system is recycled and reused – are being taken. While alternative materials for packaging have been considered, finding a perfect environment friendly substitute currently poses to be an indefinite challenge.
As customers, purchasing less is definitely a solution, but it isn’t the one most people will wish to go for. What we can do as responsible buyers is ensure that we purchase required items at one go instead of postponing specific items for later. By doing this, we can hope the items are packed and shipped together, further reducing the amount of packaging. Being and behaving as conscious individuals will assist us onto our path of sustainability, and align with our end goal of plastic elimination, especially single use plastic.
(*Return from home – Service wherein reusable packaging is delivered and picked up from households. In case of single use plastics, after the pick-up, the packaging is provided to registered vendors to ensure responsible disposal and to prevent it from ending up in landfills.
*Return on the go – Method of collection wherein the plastic packaging can be dropped off by the user in a deposit location.)