As a result of the pandemic, lots of us will be avoiding the high streets and doing our Christmas shopping online this year.
In fact, a recent survey found that we're expected to buy an extra 145 million presents online this Christmas – amounting to more than one billion presents being purchased from our sofas.
Online shopping has its environmental benefits - it means there’ll be less of us travelling into towns and cities to hit the shops, for a start - but it’s not without its pitfalls when it comes to looking out for the planet.
Luckily, there are a few small things you can do to keep your gifting as green as possible.
We’ve gathered a few of our top tips on how you can reduce the environmental impact of your online shopping this festive season.
Switching up our search engine is not something that occurs to most of us when it comes to thinking about eco-friendly choices - but at a time when most of our shopping is happening via our devices, you’d be surprised how much impact this small change could make.
Ecosia is a search engine that uses the ad revenue from searches to plant trees (just think how many searches you do a day), targeting areas which have been impacted by deforestation. So far it has planted more than 113 million trees - an area equivalent to nearly 40,000 hectares.
Setting it up as your default search engine is easy, and it’s really satisfying to know each search you make is having an impact on the planet.
Nowadays, most online retailers give options for next-day (or even same-day) delivery, and for the last-minuters among us, they can be tempting to take advantage of.
However, choosing next-day delivery can come with a greater carbon footprint. In order to meet rapid turnaround times, next-day delivery often means that the retailer has to dispatch delivery vehicles that are only partially loaded, ultimately resulting in an increased number of trips.
Where possible, plan ahead so you can opt for standard delivery instead - a choice which tends to be friendlier on your wallet, too.
Buy in bulk
Another way to reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas shopping is to consolidate your purchases.
A simple way of thinking about it is that the environmental costs increase with every journey that is made. Therefore, the more of your gifts you can buy in one go, the kinder you’re being to the planet.
While certain major online retailers get a bad rep, there are many smaller, eco-friendly online stores that you could also consider. For books, check out Hive.co.uk, which gives a donation from every sale to a local bookshop, or support independent creators by shopping through Etsy.
Check out whether any of your local businesses offer online shopping, too. If you’re unable to visit them in person, buying from nearby businesses online is a brilliant way of supporting your community, while lowering your environmental impact at the same time.
Seek sustainable packaging
Lastly, seek out brands that use recycled materials in their packaging. According to WRAP, 40% of plastic produced is packaging - much of which is used just once and then discarded, to end up in landfills, oceans and waterways.
As a customer, it’s worth selecting brands that are saying no to plastic packaging. Some offer recyclable packaging options at check-out, others disclose their packaging methods in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) sections of their website. Take an extra few minutes when doing your online shopping to check out a retailer’s credentials in this respect - the planet will thank you for it.