In a recent Sierra Club’s The Green Life posting the topic was “Green Your Shopping Habits: Gifts”. After a few postings including one about shopping on line to save gas, gift wrapping, etc I had to put in my two cents.
Shopping: Catalog/Online Ordering Verses Store Front
I really consider the shop online or locally a lot like the paper or plastic bag dilemma.
There are things that, depending on where you live, can only be gotten via mail order or ordering online. If you would have to drive great distances to get something it would save money, time and gas to order the item and have it shipped to you. The postal service and other companies who deliver packages have devised systems to save as much time, money and gas to deliver packages. It is in their best interest to because it affects their bottom line ($$$). One of the major carries in the United States maps out delivery routes to decrease the number of left hand turns their drivers need to make since left hand turns often lead to delays at lights or waiting for traffic, both cost the company time and gas – in other words money.
Now if you can find the item in your local area and can combine trips you are going to save gas and money by shopping locally. In addition to eliminating lots of shipping packaging and saving gas you will support your local economy. Amazon.com and other online stores are great and often cost lest but then money goes a long way from where most of us live. If you buy locally you still may be shipping some of your money to far off lands for the manufacturing but you are paying the store clerk, local and state taxes for your roads, schools etc, and if it is locally owned the higher ups also are local and spending their hard earned money in YOUR city or town therefore paying more clerks, landlords, taxes, etc. Virtigo Books (formally of College Park MD) posted on their blog “Why Buy Local?” which explains why should support our local business. Their example states that for everyone $100 you spend locally $45 stays local; at national chains only $14 stays local; and internet purchases $0. Unfortunately not enough people heeded their post and their store closed this April.
So, just as we need to think about our choices for paper, plastic or reusable shopping bags, we need to think before we shop and make the best choice for where we purchase things.