Prime Gift Giving Rather Than Prime Shipping
I used to occasionally put out a call on Nextdoor: "Neighbors, I need small cardboard boxes for shipping my Etsy purchases. Does anyone have spare ones?"
These days, I don't need to do that anymore, I have so many people eager to unload their surplus shipping boxes that I can't handle the number. I even have people bring them to my house!
While this solves one of my problems and saves me money - more than 700 purchases into my Etsy seller career and I have yet to buy a single cardboard box - it illustrates a much bigger problem: cheap, free, Prime shipping creates cardboard waste in absurd quantities.
Environmental Impact of Shipping
The environmental cost of shipping goods is rather complicated as there are so many different factors to consider. There is gas consumption of the delivery trucks, congestion added to local streets by these trucks, there is the effect of readily available returns which double the environmental expense of a purchase. And there is expedited shipping, which results in larger purchases being split up into many small ones which are shipped separately. There is the trips to the stores we don't take, because we order online and the fact that, in theory, a delivery truck can be more efficient by delivering to many houses in one trip.
This all seems to add up to the following bottom line:
If customers were to make large purchases that were all delivered by a delivery truck along with other nearby households' large deliveries and everything would be delivered during slow traffic hours then online shopping and delivery would be environmentally more friendly than everybody driving to the store.
Unfortunately, the reality is quite different: people make frequent small orders or larger but expedited orders , trucks deliver during the day time, when traffic is heavy, because customers don't want their purchases dropped on their doorsteps in the dead of the night. Often even small, cheap purchases arrive in large boxes, wrapped in layers of bubble wrap or styrofoam cushioning that all are thrown out - unless, of course, the neighbors drop them at my house.
Shipping and Holiday Gift Giving
The holiday season with all the associated gift giving exacerbates that whole situation - by a lot. So what is an environmentally conscious FabMo fan to do? Since we can't single-handedly change the system we all can do our small piece to not add more pollutants, trash and greenhouse gases to the environment by:
Plan and consolidate shopping trips to nearby stores rather than ordering everything online, especially via expedited shipping. Do you really need that gadget, bar of soap, pair of socks so urgently that you can't wait a couple of days?
Reuse boxes for your own shipping purposes. I have to admit that my packages don't always look pristine, there might be the rest of the old label stuck to it, or bits of the original sticky tape but, honestly, I don't care. I tell my customers why I do it the way I do it and if they don't like it, they can order somewhere else. Nobody has ever complained. Your friends and family should be at least as understanding as my customers, I hope.
If you can't reuse, recycle. Really. Taking part boxes is fast and - as my teenage son puts it -"weirdly satisfying" and that way you can put them in the paper recycling.
Avoid one leg of shipping by making your own wonderful gifts (from FabMo materials, obviously!) for your loved ones (and your co-workers, your kid's teacher, etc).
If you can't give that wonderful gift you made from FabMo materials to the lucky recipient in person, point 2 applies. You can use some of the pretty wallpaper we have available at FabMo to spruce up you package.
It is small contributions we can all make to protect our environment from further damage but they add up if we all do them and hopefully set an example for many more people to start thinking about the environmental consequences of their everyday actions.