Keep Internet Searching Clean
When we shop online, we don't tend to automatically think that we're adding much to our carbon footprint because we're not going anywhere. Although, when we think about it in more detail, we become aware that, even though we're not travelling to get the product, the product is travelling to us, and this means an accumulation of air miles, car miles and packaging along the way. Not only that but, because technology needs energy to function, the use of the internet and systems actually contributes towards our carbon footprint as well.

We're not saying never shop online or use the internet again because, for one, we wouldn't have access to memes (essential) and, two, online shopping is popular for a reason: it's convenient. Sometimes, however, we need to take a step back and think about what this convenience is contributing to the health of our planet and how we can ensure we're not unnecessarily damaging it

Here are our 7 ways to reduce your carbon footprint when shopping online:

1. Filter Brands and Products by Location

When we shop on international sites like eBay and Depop, it's easy to search the whole catalogue of results because they usually default it to Worldwide. Depending on your location, there are likely to be a plethora of search results in your country without having to look further afield which means you can reduce the amount of air miles a product needs to travel to get to your front door.

Here are a couple of my tips for filtering by location:

1. Start by filtering to just your region (i.e. within 25 miles of your location) and see what results come up. If there are few results, keep expanding your radius until you find the product you're looking for. That way, you know you've at least tried to reduce your carbon footprint! Plus, if you find something closer to home, the delivery is likely cheaper AND it'll arrive quicker.

2. Shop on websites of brands that are based in your country, instead of relying on international shipping. Find the location of the brand warehouse (this is typically stated on their Contact page) and see if it's in your country. If not, there are always alternative brands out there. For instance, if you've found a great sustainable underwear brand but it's based in the USA and you live in the UK, you can find a list of our Top Sustainable Underwear Brands which feature underwear companies based in various countries.
2. Think About Packaging

Many brands have stepped up their game regarding packaging and are using paper bags and recyclable plastic bags made from recycled materials. So, before you start browsing a website, check to see what a brand uses to package their products (a quick Google search of "*insert brand name* packaging" should do it). Some brands are really going the extra mile and providing returnable packaging. Italian brand Agogic use bags made by RePack to reduce their carbon footprint. RePack create packaging that is made to be posted back after a customer has opened it.
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Image by John Schnobrich
3. Opt-out of Plastic Bags

These days it's a bit of a no-brainer but remember to opt-out of receiving plastic bags with food shop deliveries! In the UK, you can opt to not have plastic bags when your food shop is delivered, which makes sense because why would you need them to carry your shopping from the door to the kitchen when they come in crates anyway? Unless you live in Buckingham Palace where the distance between these two places is likely to be extremely far!

4. Buy at a Local Shop

To save air and car miles, see if an item can be bought locally. If the item is stocked in the local shop, then it's already travelled to your area so there's no point creating more carbon emissions for no reason. For instance, if you need a new pan because your current one is scratched to death, instead of looking online, can you buy one from the supermarket on your next grocery trip and reduce your carbon footprint?
5. Use Sustainable Search Engines

It's not something we think about but search engines have carbon footprints, too. One search engine that is doing wonders to help the environment is Ecosia. Ecosia is actually carbon NEGATIVE. Not neutral, no, but negative. How? They produce twice the amount of solar needed to power Ecosia, plus they use 80% of their profits to support tree planting projects.
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6. Return Fewer Items

Be more selective about what you put in your online basket because, if you return an item, then it will have made two trips. As returns tend to use fossil fuels because they're mainly done using road or air transportation it's not exactly carbon efficient. Plus, unfortunately, if you return an item, it's likely to end up in landfill and not be resold which contributes to more CO2 emissions.
7. Shop Less Online

Given that 3.7% of our greenhouse gas emissions are down to the gadgets, internet and systems we use, not to mention we're spending more time online than ever before, it's probably wise that we cut down our screen time a little bit. So, to reduce that impact, it might be best to walk to your local shops to buy things or get the bus or train into a city close by to go shopping, instead of doing it online.
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Also, have you ever heard of a brand digital footprint? I hadn't. Shopping fast fashion online has a large digital carbon footprint. In fact, in London, 9 million grams of CO2 is produced each month just through online retail searches; this is equal to flying from London to Perth and back, twice.

Those are our 7 ways that you can shake up your online shopping and reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure to message us on Instagram (@thecircle_fashionmagazine) if you have any more suggestions!
Article by Catherine McAteer