De-Mystifying The Sustainability Of Shipping

When we started Bite, one of the first things we thought about was shipping. Because here’s the thing: we have a product that’s good for the environment and will help to reduce waste, but it can’t do any of that if we can’t get it to people! And, of course, getting anything anywhere requires energy and fuel.

In order to understand how our shipping was going to affect the environment, we did a little digging. And what we found is that, in general, online shopping is more sustainable than buying from a brick and mortar store. Which seems a little counterintuitive, right? But it’s true! The reasons for this are varied and a little bit confusing, but let us explain.

First of all, a brick and mortar store (aka, a physical store you can walk into with your body) doesn’t have the luxury of knowing how much of any item it’s actually going to sell. As a result, the store has to stay fully stocked, and that’s accomplished by shipping items to nearby warehouses in large quantities, usually by freight truck. On the flip side, an online retailer (hi!) ships only when something is actually ordered, cutting down on unnecessary travel.

Another factor to consider is the movement of the consumer (you!). In order to shop in a store, you need to get in your car and drive to that store. And if you’re shopping for something you’re not sure about (clothing, for example), you might go back and forth to that store multiple times, raising the transaction’s carbon footprint. (This is less of a factor if you live in a city and take public transportation, of course, but we’re speaking generally here.)

There’s also the issue of packaging, which is where traditional shopping can have online shopping beat. The majority of an online shopping transaction’s carbon footprint generally comes from packaging, which (clearly) is more robust than when you’re buying something in a store. To mitigate that, we use cardboard packaging with paper tape — every piece of a Bite package is 100% recyclable.

Finally, we want to talk about rush shipping — because this is where online shopping starts to seriously lose its advantage. With 2-day shipping options on the rise, the environmental impact of online shopping is going up and up. So, we do not offer rush shipping. We totally get that it’s less convenient! We also love getting things immediately, because who doesn’t. But it’s important to us that Bite is about a larger mission, and that we’re doing everything we can to keep our carbon footprint low. So we’re gonna stick to our guns on this one, and we hope you’ll support us. We promise we’re worth the wait.


Source: MIT

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