Sustainable Shopping: What's the Best Way?
Have you ever wondered whether it would be more environmentally conscious to order that product you’ve been wanting online, or go to the store to get it? There is a common misconception that online orders delivered to your door necessarily generate more carbon emissions than a brick and mortar alternative. However, this study conducted by MIT shows that online shopping is actually the most environmentally friendly on average over a wide range of scenarios.
This is because brick-and-mortar stores have to maintain inventory, resulting in a lot of background shipping unseen by the final customer. Items typically ship from manufacturers to distribution centers to stores, sometimes stopping at multiple warehouses along the way.
Another factor to consider is the customer’s journey. This of course can vary based on distance, use of public transportation, or alternate means of getting there (for the lucky few who live in a walkable or bikeable area). But on average, most shoppers must make considerable trips in personal vehicles to get to and from their local store.
The Problem with Rush Shipping
A very big “but” in this general consensus is how the online purchase is shipped. When we speed up delivery by opting for “rush” or “expedited” shipping, we greatly increase the carbon footprint of the order. Although the rise of one, two, or even same day shipping with private carriers has made life more convenient, its negative environmental effects topple the case for online purchasing.
In our impatient world, it certainly can feel gratifying to receive every online order almost instantly. But at what cost? Big companies like Amazon sacrifice the health of the planet in the name of “efficiency” for the individual customer.
To us, efficiency isn’t just getting a package to it’s destination as quickly as humanly possible. It’s getting it there as fast as possible without destroying the environment in the process.
USPS or Bust
This fact is exactly why we ship all Jimbo & Jules purchases with USPS First-Class or USPS Priority. If expedited shipping is driving a gas-guzzling Hummer across town to get to the store, shipping with USPS First-Class is walking to the local bus stop and hitching a ride along the route.
The USPS, much like a public transportation vehicle, has an existing postal delivery route that more than likely stops at (or very near to) your residence every day, regardless of whether you have incoming mail. By shipping with USPS, your package is hopping on the USPS bus and hopping off at the “Your House” stop. Thus, we are taking advantage of an existing system for a significantly more sustainable way to ship.
We know that sometimes time truly is of the essence. If you are in a lot of pain, for example, you may really need your products in hand faster. This is why we also offer the option of 2-day shipping with USPS Priority Mail. Per our analogy, Priority Mail is like driving your car to the bus station first, then hopping on. So while it is not as environmentally friendly as standard mail, shipping USPS Priority Mail is still a cleaner route than other express shipping options for when time is a factor. That being said, we strongly encourage opting for standard shipping whenever possible!
Go Carbon-Neutral with Cloverly
Shipping with USPS is a low-emissions option, but shipping is never emissions-free. To take it a step further, we’ve partnered with Cloverly to give our customers the option to make any order carbon-neutral. Cloverly uses a powerful API to purchase Renewable Energy Credits from reputable suppliers of various carbon offset projects. With the click of a button, you can choose to offset the carbon impact of your order in real time - typically for less than a dollar.
100% Plastic-Free Packaging
There’s more to shipping than just, well, shipping. Packaging represents the largest contributor to online shopping’s environmental impact. If you go to a store, the person at the counter doesn’t typically box up your order with bubble wrap and packing peanuts (we hope). But shipping goods often necessitates this level of protection.
So, in order to uphold our mission and core value to be as sustainable as possible, we put considerable effort into reducing the environmental impact of our packaging - by shipping 100% plastic-free!
Single-use plastic presents one of the most pressing environmental threats facing our planet today. Sadly, the vast majority (over 70%) of plastic waste, even if municipally recycled, ends up in a landfill. From there it leaches into the ground and our water system, makes its way into our oceans, and eventually ends up in our food and drinking water in the form of microplastics.
We are committed to helping put an end to the plastic trend. We nixed any plastic padding, containers, and even tape in our packaging process.
To protect your order, we use starch-based peanuts that look and act just like their styrofoam predecessors, but dissolve in water and biodegrade in your backyard. To hold it all together, we use FCS certified corrugated boxes for large or fragile orders, and recycled padded mailers for small, non-glass orders. Using different sized packages also helps us avoid shipping air. (The larger the package the higher the carbon footprint, so we do our best to keep everything cozy.) And finally, kraft paper tape seals the deal!
We are passionate about our products, our mission, and you, our customers. So naturally, we have a lot to tell you. But we didn’t want to send you a note in your package that would ultimately end up in the trash. Instead, we created plantable seed paper cards, so that after you’ve received your package and read all about what’s inside, you can plant your card lovingly in a pot (or bury it in the dirt), and grow beautiful wildflowers that will support pollinators and benefit the wildlife around you.
We believe all it takes to change the world is everyone doing their part. That’s why we made our products in the first place: to help you get past your pain so you can do what you’re meant to do. And that’s also why we put so much thought, care, and research into every facet of our business - because being truly sustainable isn’t just something we put on our label, it’s a goal we are constantly striving towards.
Sometimes sustainability isn’t the cheapest, easiest, or quickest option. We hope that you will support and join us in putting in the effort in pursuit of a better, brighter future for all of us.