Explained: The Sustainability Of Shipping

Explained: The Sustainability Of Shipping

Let's talk 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 you! 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. According to this MIT study, in general, online shopping is more sustainable than buying from a brick and mortar store as long as it isn't rushed.

We know it seems a little counterintuitive - the reasons for this are varied and a little bit confusing, but let us explain why that is and what we do to keep our carbon footprint under control.

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 and then to the stores, usually by freight truck. Sometimes goods need to be moved from location to location depending on sales and sales projections.

On the flip side, an online retailer (hi, that's us!) freights only to one warehouse where it stays until it is actually ordered, cutting down on unnecessary travel and multiple facility energy overheads.

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. Of course, this is less of a factor if you live in a city and take public transportation, but we're speaking generally here.

You driving to the store to pick up that tube has a carbon cost with many people collectively driving their individual cars to individual stores, that carbon footprint adds up fast.

There’s also the issue of packaging. 

The carbon footprint of the shipping packaging can (clearly) be more robust than when you’re buying something in a store. To mitigate that, we use post consumer and recyclable cardboard packaging with paper tape and recycled kraft fill — every piece of a Bite package is 100% recyclable or compostable.

We also make sure it's sized properly (some companies send all their products in the same size box to save on costs) and is created to be lightweight while durable enough to protect our glass bottles. No plastic bubble wrap, no plastic tape, no unnecessary void fill. 

Finally, we want to talk about rush shipping —

because this is where online shopping loses its advantage. With 2-day shipping options on the rise, the environmental impact of online shopping is going up and up. Because of this, we do not offer rush shipping . Instead, when you place an order, your Bits travel to you by what we call the "public transit system" of shipping, USPS.

No matter where you live, if you are in the US, there is a good chance a postal worker is going to come by your mailbox every single business day, whether you have mail or you don't.

This person is using an existing postal route that will be followed no matter what and by using USPS, your Bits essentially hitch a ride along this slow and predetermined system (a la the "public transit" of delivery) which significantly cuts down on the carbon footprint of your delivery, similarly to if you took a bus instead of taking a car. Sometimes you may notice your shipment says DHL. This is their bulk shipping method that is then individually dropped off via USPS, and carries a similar carbon footprint. 

In contrast, when you select 2 Day Shipping or (gasp) Overnight, a special trip is made specifically to your house for your order in a very small amount of time which not only leads to way higher carbon footprint for the transit of your order, if the company is using cheap oversize boxes with bubble wrap to fill the void (as we talked about above), it's now a double hit.

We get that it takes longer 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. We hope you support us as we’re stick to our guns on this one and as the saying goes "good things come to those who wait." 

Source: MIT


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  • Ruth Kay Souder

    I’m so happy to do what is good for the environment. Thank you & thank you for the explanation

  • Lisa Zatcoff

    Thank you for caring so much about the environment. I appreciate the lengths that you are going through to mail your products sustainably and with a small carbon footprint!!

  • A Xenakis

    Love this breakdown of info! Thank you for sharing. Given USPS’s current funding peril, might you as a company consider making a donation or other contribution to help keep them sustained? I really don’t want to lose our USPS to privatized delivery companies, and your post really helped underscore that.

  • Diane Womble

    it’d be nice to see paper packages for refills. Once, you get the glass bottle it’d be nice to be able to refill with minimal packaging and recycling.

  • Karolina

    I love the fact that you’re so eco friendly and that’s why I decided to try your toothpaste.

  • Holli Valentin

    Thank you so much for this explanation. I will say the timing is a bit terrifying as 5 min ago I was just wondering if I was actually offsetting anything by ordering and having “sustainable goods” delivered. 😁

  • Angela

    It is important for me and us all to support companies that show they really care every step of the way! Thank you so much for you thoroughness in protecting our Earth! <3

  • Elizabeth KLOSOWSKI

    Along with saving our landfills, your bits are a big help for arthritic hands. Many years both my son and myself have had a difficult time trying not to waste product but squeezing the tube to the end. Impossible with crippled hands. Your product is great. Thank you .

  • Olivier V Brill

    And yet my parcel was sent expedited via DHL….

  • Laurie

    I really appreciate the thought and effort you have put into how your company connects with the environment. You set a great example for other companies that I hope will follow suit.

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