Slow Shopping, Packaging & Our Carbon Footprint

I don't know if slow shopping is actually a thing or not. The slow food movement encourages buying and cooking local food, knowing where our food comes from and awareness of the environmental impact of our food choices. I think of WithAPast and similar websites as a kind of slow shopping movement. 

There's no doubt that purchasing previously owned items has less of an impact on the environment than purchasing new.  In their 2017 report, The Secondhand Effect, Schibsted Media Group states:

"Shopping secondhand offers consumers an easy way to significantly reduce their environmental footprint. Schibsted has found a way to convert the environmental benefit from its users’ trade into numbers using data collected from eight of its marketplaces. According to the report, users Schibsted’s online marketplaces in Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Norway, Spain and Sweden have contributed to 16.3 millions tons of carbon dioxide savings by buying and selling used goods last year."

The product being sold though is only one part of the equation.  Storage, shipping methods and packaging all contribute to the environmental cost of goods. Amazon recently revealed that it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, which really is staggering.  A big percentage of that number comes from rush, next day shipping/delivery, packaging and delivery methods. There is a measurable cost to the environment for over packaged goods that are rush shipped to the consumer. That cost is huge. 

To me, slow shopping is the thoughtful choice to purchase goods while taking into account the impact that choice may have on the climate. Previously owned items have no new production costs and have the added benefit of diverting costs associated with disposal. 

Packaging and shipping are the other main factors and I'm fortunate to have friends, family and colleagues who work for large institutions and who collect packaging materials for me. A single order of institutional furniture results in bags and bags of protective foam and bubble wrap, 99.9% of which is perfect for wrapping and shipping the many fragile items that are sold on WithAPast. In fact, all orders shipped over the past year were packed with this reclaimed and re-purposed packaging.  Just when I started to run low, some of my colleagues gifted me with seven industrial sized bags of previously used shipping and packaging materials!

So, while plastic is never my preference, reclaimed and re-purposed plastic bubble wrap and air pockets work well and do not in any way increase the carbon footprint of WithAPast.  Your decision to purchase from our online store will have far less of an environmental impact than many others you could have made. Slow shopping in this case means that it won't arrive in a day or two, and the packaging may not be pretty or branded, but all things considered, it's a very good trade off!

Originally Posted: November 15, 2019

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