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Avoiding Travel by Shopping Online

The Internet can help you be green. You can use it to shop online and eliminate trips to shopping areas — trips that you would probably make in your car, which emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Although shopping online can increase the number of commercial deliveries, the environmental impact is lessened because deliveries are made to multiple shoppers instead of everyone driving to the store individually.

Why drive to the mall only to fight the crowds? Save your sanity and the planet by shopping online.
Why drive to the mall only to fight the crowds? Save your sanity and the planet by shopping online.

One potential downside of online shopping is the waste generated by packing materials, but, if you’re thinking green, you can reuse or recycle much of it. For example, you can reuse cardboard boxes and interior packaging material such as inflatable plastic or peanuts, and you can also recycle cardboard and some plastic packaging films. If you think that items are being overpackaged, express that concern to the retailer.

Some of the most popular online shopping categories that reduce individual transport trips include:

  • Books and music: Amazon.com was one of the first companies to popularize buying music and books online.

  • Perishable and nonperishable foods: Many large supermarkets and specialist organic food stores encourage online shopping, and because most of the delivery services are local, everyone benefits.

  • Food delivery: From pizza to Chinese or Indian food, if you’re in an urban area or even a small town, you can likely have your dinner come to you.

  • Home furniture and electronics: Most large retailers have online catalogs that enable you to order and have your bulky purchase delivered without lifting a finger.

  • Anything and everything: Sites such as eBay and Freecycle, which give people a chance to sell or give away their own goods, have given many items a second life in new homes.

Be very security conscious when shopping online. Stick to Web sites and vendors you know and trust; ensure that you’re using a secure Internet connection; never give out passwords or private information in response to e-mails; and look for the locked padlock on the bottom of the Web browser and the s after the http in the address that indicates the page is secure. Check with the Federal Trade Commission for more consumer information about online shopping.

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