Does Online Shopping reduce my Carbon Footprint?

This week’s Sustainability Tip of the Week #STOTW discusses the impact online shopping has on carbon footprint.

Over the past decade, the popularity of online shopping has grown exponentially. Almost every major store in the United States has its own online store. You can purchase almost anything online- food, clothes, electronics. You name it, it’s there. The convenience of online shopping has created a shift in the way consumers shop. While online shopping saves consumers a trip to the store, it means that items are being shipped, flown, and driven right to their doorstep instead. So which is better for the environment: shopping online or shopping in-store?


In 2013, a study was done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology #MIT to compare the carbon footprints of traditional in-store shopping and online-shopping. The study took into account aspects such as packaging, transportation, and energy categories including computer usage for online purchases, and energy consumption of warehouses and retail stores that typical items are stored in.


The figure below shows the breakdown of the environmental impacts of a traditional in-store shopper, an impulse in-store shopper, a shopper who does research online but buys items in-store, a modern shopper who searches online and in-store options but ultimately purchases


items online, a modern shopper who uses expedited online shipping, an online-shopper (cybernaut) who uses traditional shipping, and an online-shopper who uses expedited shipping, and various online shoppers with various methods of returning items.

The results of the study show that shopping online is in fact better for the environment in terms of reducing your carbon footprint, as long as you don’t choose expedited shipping options. Because shipping companies optimize their delivery process as much as possible, it is more efficient than when consumers travel to the store to purchase items. As online shopping become more popular, more studies are expected to be published, but for now, it looks like online shopping is the way to go! For more information about the study, you can read it here.


Photo source:

Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017

29 Replies to “Does Online Shopping reduce my Carbon Footprint?”

  1. Thank you for providing this information. This post has a lot of information that I was previously unaware of. Continue to share!

  2. As more people are becoming aware of global warming and the side effects of CO2. Some governments around the world are taking actions. And online shopping is helping in some way or another. But we have to go electric in terms of transportation, if we really want to see the end results.

  3. Reducing carbon footprint is important in ensuring we have a future for our children. That means reducing power intake, especially from hydrocarbons, or going for renewable energy. However, for this to happen, you need to ensure the activities that consume lots of energy are efficient. The reason why we engage the users on energy-efficient gaming at home. With efficient gaming, our lives and the lives of our grandchildren is assured on earth.

  4. My shopping habits have changed over time. I make conscious decisions and smart investments. Not indulging in impulsive buying will not only help you reduce your carbon footprint but also help to from burning your pocket

  5. Why shouldn’t we remain indifferent?
    The seven billion people in the world consume different proportions of the planet’s resources. According to United Nations forecasts, the world’s population could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050 and more than 11 billion by 2100. More people means more emissions and fewer resources.

    More greenhouse gas emissions directly affect global warming, accelerating climate change and producing disastrous effects for the planet. But each of us can do something against global warming through choices in everyday life. Be smart people!
    Great topic

  6. Thank you for the article. Seems like online shopping reduces the carbon footprint. This is because the reduction in the use of carbon emitting vehicles. However, why not recommend the use of bicycles or walking for shopping which will increase the exercise and reduce the carbon footprint?

  7. Fantastic article. Most of time i prefer to buy online product like bd dress collection that save more time and hassle free.

  8. Great article. This article includes very good information about online shopping that I wasn’t aware of it. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article. Keep sharing more on this.

  9. Nice article. Most of time i prefer to buy online product or technology related things that save more time compare to go to shop and buy things.

  10. Yes, Online Shopping can reduce carbon footprint, but i think sometimes we need to go out and do some outdoor activities.

  11. Thanks for this very nice article, So other than helping you save quite a lot of money and time, Online Shopping can now also assist cut back carbon footprint, which is great!

  12. Very nice article, So apart from helping you save a lot of time and money, Online Shopping can now also help reduce carbon footprint, which is great!

  13. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this insightful article. It was a very surprising read. So apart from helping you save a lot of time and money, Online Shopping can now also help reduce carbon footprint, which is great!

  14. But it became most common today , mostly, peoples are going to purchase online things.
    As the result of this , it happens.

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