Friday, 2 November 2012

A Greener Way To Shop?

Grumble about it with all your might, but there's no getting away from the awful truth; we're rapidly approaching the season of consumption. Most retailers will expect to see 40-50% of their sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Imagine it. The queues. The parking nightmares. The stores full of screaming, arguing families...
Is it any wonder that more and more of us are doing our Christmas shopping online? Make a cuppa, get yourself comfy on the sofa, fire up the laptop and there you go, shopping done. And, by moving away from the centralised shipping and big-box store energy impacts, you can be smug in the knowledge that you're conspicuous consumption is being done in a far greener way. Right?

Well, yeah, kinda, but. Let's not forget that the big online heavy lifters have their own environmental and ethical questions to be answered. Amazon, to pluck an example out of the air, have faced accusations of worker exploitation and an extremely poor record on paying their corporation tax--a figure that adds up to billions for the cash-strapped British economy. And of course, they have to ship everything they sell to your door using a vast network of trucks and distribution centres--your new pair of Converse or that Christmas party dress doesn't pop through your letterbox by magic.

There are ways round the dilemma, which the savvy green shopper should already know all about. Shopping locally using smaller retailers saves a lot of the grief of slogging round big, isolated warehouses. They too, if they're on the ball, will have their own internet shopping hub, meaning that you can support a small business and cut transportation costs.

Bear in mind that the internet is as useful a research tool as it is a shopping basket. It's worth spending a bit of time that you'd using prowling the big sites to see what's available in your local area. Even if it does mean cracking the airlock and actually going into town, at least you'll be focussed on one or two shops, rather then having to face a painful, aimless meander looking out for the perfect pair of socks for Uncle Jim.

And who knows, this year you might find the whole process to be that little bit less painful. That's my Christmas wish, anyway...

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