When we started Chaylor Leather as an online retailer, one of the first things we thought about was shipping. Because here’s the thing: it’s 2019 and we as people cannot deny the current global crisis and over use of plastics. So therefore as manufacturers we are trying our best to limit and in some cases eliminate entirely plastic reliance. Being that we are an e-commerce company we still have to get our products to our customers without undoing all our work to reduce waste, and, of course, getting anything anywhere requires energy and fuel.
In order to understand how our shipping was going to affect the environment, we did a little digging. And what we found is that, in general, online shopping is more sustainable than buying from a brick and mortar store. Which seems a little counterintuitive, right? But it’s true! The reasons for this are varied and a little bit confusing, but let us explain.
First of all, a brick and mortar store (aka, a physical store you can walk into with your body) doesn’t have the luxury of knowing how much of any item it’s actually going to sell. As a result, the store has to stay fully stocked, and that’s accomplished by shipping items to nearby warehouses in large quantities, usually by freight truck. On the flip side, an online retailer (hi!) ships only when something is actually ordered, cutting down on unnecessary travel.
Another factor to consider is the movement of the consumer (you!). In order to shop in a store, you need to get in your car and drive to that store. And if you’re shopping for something you’re not sure about (clothing, for example), you might go back and forth to that store multiple times, raising the transaction’s carbon footprint. (This is less of a factor if you live in a city and take public transportation, of course, but we’re speaking generally here.)
There’s also the issue of packaging, which is where traditional shopping can have online shopping beat. The majority of an online shopping transaction’s carbon footprint generally comes from packaging, which (clearly) is more robust than when you’re buying something in a store. To mitigate that, we use cardboard packaging with paper tape — every piece of a Chaylor package is 100% recyclable.