I did it a little this morning, and last night too. I wasn’t shy, and I even told a couple of people about it. I think you probably did it too. I’m talking about online shopping. This relatively new method of commerce is something that has changed the way we live. I’m interested in exploring the sustainable aspects of this form of retail, and what innovations can be made to increase its ecological footprint.
If any of you have ever lived out in the sticks than you know what it’s like to feel completely devoid of any fashion. This is not to say that fashion doesn’t exist in remote areas, quite the opposite actually, however the exhilaration of strolling down a Newbury Street, 5th Avenue, or the Avenue Montaigne is something that you can’t exactly replicate in Mom & Pop’s mini mall. When I find myself in more rural locals, due to my love of nature, there is without fail a moment that I stop, look to my left and then right, and realize that a huge part of my diet (shopping & window-browsing) has been left in the last city I was in.
Before the 1990’s this realization would have pulled me like a yo-yo back to the city to do some serious damage to the stores that quelled my addition. But now, in 2010, I am able to simply set up my lap top and say hello to my old friends, Gilt, Sephora, Polyvore and get that same fix, virtually.
What this means is that I can stay local and shop worldwide. Any impact my car, or flight in some cases, may have had are all snapped up and traded in for the luxury of a little electricity and some shipping miles, which can be supplemented by a dash of carbon offset points and there you go! This is an interesting environmental problem, and one that I’m not fully sure about ultimate ramifications of. In doing some research, I did find a chart of the Chinese online shopping industry from 2001-2010 ( courtesy of iResearch.com).
As evidenced by this chart, online shopping’s growth over short period of time is only developing. There is simply no stopping the phenomenon of conducting all consumption, from your trip to the grocery store to adding the last piece of your vintage shoe collection, in the comfort of your own home. However, I ask the question, how does this help/hurt the sustainable consumption movement? How do you view your ability to shop online? Do you prefer human contact, and are you willing to adapt your basic shopping needs-I’m not talking about that dress you must have for wedding season, to become more sustainable-even if it means that you won’t be doing it in a traditional setting? I’m looking forward to hearing your responses and feedback to the online shopping climate, and if it’s possible to practice sustainable online shopping?