Climate Change & The Environmental Impact of E-commerce | EcoCart

Climate Change and The Impact of E-commerce on the Environment

Climate Change is a defining issue of our time. But what exactly does it refer to? When did it become an issue? How has the age of the internet and e-commerce impacted it?

Climate Change

The short answer is that climate change refers to a change in the average conditions—like temperature and rainfall—in a region over a long period of time. NASA scientists have observed Earth’s surface is warming, and many of the warmest years in recorded history have happened in the past 20 years. 

A large contributor to climate change is the greenhouse effect, which essentially traps “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere that cause temperatures to rise. Human activities—such as burning fuel to power factories, cars, and buses—are changing Earth’s natural greenhouse processes and creating a massive carbon footprint. These changes cause the atmosphere to trap more heat than it used to, leading to a warmer Earth.

The industrial revolution was a key player in how human activity permanently affects climate change. The new use of fossil fuels kicked off the continuous effect on the Earth and environment that has persisted to the present. 

The Internet,E-commerce, and The Environment

First established in the 1970s, the internet has vastly changed and improved our lives. It has affected every aspect of daily life, from how we pick out what we’re going to wear one day, to how we conduct business and how we shop. 

E-commerce refers to the activity of buying or selling products with the use of online services or over the internet. These days, almost anything can be bought online. The ability to purchase more online can help lessen the stress placed on people to do certain errands and activities. 

Every time we buy something online, a chain reaction is triggered. In an oversimplification, the order is received, the product is manufactured or pulled from a warehouse. It is then packaged and shipped off to our doorstep. Each of these steps is repeated for every single online order we make, and each grows our carbon footprint. 

It is important to note how this type of shopping differs from going to a physical store and shopping. One person might take their car to the grocery store, buy what they need, and then go to a department store, buy what they need, and repeat this process with surrounding stores in one day. They would then drive home after all the shopping was complete. While shopping like this does cause carbon emissions, it’s nothing compared to the carbon footprint of e-commerce and online shopping.

With online shopping, each online order requires its own entire process to get to your door. Almost as if each order you place is an individual running shopping errands for the day. This means that online shopping can add up to a serious environmental impact when we consider how easy and common it is to place multiple orders in one day (we’re looking at you, Amazon Prime). 

Shipping and distribution are huge contributors to the increased carbon emissions, which cause the greenhouse effect which causes climate change, attributable to e-commerce and online shopping. Each product we order requires a variety of different modes of transportation to get to our front door. For example, it could take a ship across an ocean, then a plane or train across a country, followed by a truck across town to its final destination. All of this contributes to the massive carbon footprint and environmental impact of e-commerce and online shopping.

Why This Is Important 

Online shopping and e-commerce are only growing, and so is their carbon footprint. However, we shouldn’t have to turn our backs to this new way of consumption out of fear of environmental consequences. What’s important moving forward is to make sure our online shopping habits are sustainable and have a positive impact on the world, lessening their contribution to climate change and rising temperatures. 

EcoCart is an easy solution to this new challenge. EcoCart is an app for Shopify stores that helps shoppers and merchants reduce their e-commerce carbon footprint and lower the environmental impact of their online shopping . Customers are given the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions that arise from their online order when they check out. 

Usually just a few extra cents, this money is given to independently verified carbon reduction initiatives, like renewable energy wind turbines in Turkey that actively combat climate change by displacing the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. 

Available for free on the Shopify app store, install EcoCart to your shop today to take a stand against climate change and see the positive impact your store can have on the environment.