I’ll be the first to admit that I adore online shopping. What’s not to like? I don’t have to leave the house and drive to the mall. I don’t have to walk around for hours hunting for the right item. It’s all delivered right to my door, and most of the time delivery is free. Everything is just a few clicks away and the convenience is just second to none.
Today I received a delivery for an order I placed just 3 days ago. When I got my package, I was happy to have gotten exactly what I wanted with no hassle at all. But then, when I opened the box, I was hit with a HUGE feeling of guilt over how much waste had been created.
I ordered three things. Two of them came together, but in separate boxes. Since one item was awkwardly shaped, they put it in a large box AND filled it with plastic bubble wrap. The second item that came was in a different box, with yet again, more plastic bubble wrap. The third item did not come with this delivery, so there will be a third box with more plastic bubble wrap, and the delivery truck will have to drive it to me, wasting more gas and resources.
Even if I recycle everything that I can, there’s no way to balance the negative environmental output.
Did you know that much of what we recycle ends up in a landfill because of “contamination”? Something as simple as a coffee stain on paper makes it un-recyclable, and if it gets mixed in with other recyclable items, that gets contaminated, too. Even a small amount of peanut butter left in a container can contaminate a tonne of paper.
Another really interesting thing I learned was that we (as in Canada) do not do most of the actual recycling ourselves. We collect recyclable material and sort them to be bought by countries like China, who then recycle the materials into new products. If the recyclable material is not purchased by anyone (due to policy changes or contamination levels), it will eventually go to a landfill.
It saddens me to learn how ineffective recycling can be, but I really believe that knowledge is power. So knowing all this, I’m going to make sure I clean my recyclable materials better AND think twice before making online purchases .
Here are 3 easy things to start doing that will reduce waste when holiday shopping:
Read more about recycling in Canada from CBC or watch VOX as they examine the environmental cost of 2-day shipping and some potential solutions!