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Online shopping better for environment: UW expert

What can we do to lessen our environmental impact when we shop? One expert says online shopping might be the better option for the environment.

Using your gas powered vehicle to go to the store has more of a negative environmental impact than buying online.

According to Olaf Weber, who is a professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, says having one van delivering to multiple places is better than individuals going to the store.

“At the end of the day if we have 10, 15, or even 20 orders we would just deliver them, then it’s a lower impact than having people in the store.”

He also mentions we have to be mindful in the way we shop because it could lead to a bigger environmental impact.

Weber said things like fast delivery or next day delivery could have a negative impact, as more of those methods deliver to less people in a day.

Even if you think shopping local is better for the environment you could make a bigger impact than you initially thought.

“If you want to shop local and you go to different local farms and producers to buy your things, it might have an even bigger impact instead of just going to the same big box super market and buying everything in the same place,” said Weber.

However he does say if more local retailers had online options it would have a positive impact on the environment, as one van delivering all the packages for the day is better than, for example, 20 people getting in their cars and going directly to the store.

On a positive note he said delivery companies such as Amazon, Purolator and UPS are looking into switching to electric delivery vehicles to lessen their impact on the environment.


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