Think Before You Click: Does Shopping Behavior Impact Sustainability?
To understand the environmental impacts, the study created a "cradle-to-grave" Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) that examines the environmental impacts of all material, energy and fuels attributable to a product in its lifecycle. The LCA also assumes the consumer purchased the same basket of goods online as they would in a brick-and-mortar location.
"The difference in the environmental impact of shopping at physical stores versus online rests on a number of factors," said
Additional findings from the research show that:
- Traveling to the mall in groups lowers the environmental impact per product bought. The average mall shopping group size is 2.2, and when people travel together and buy more products per trip, the average fuel burned to buy each product is lower.
- Shopping online leads to more returned products which considerably increases the environmental impact. The data shows that 33 percent of online purchases are returned versus seven percent in the case of brick-and-mortar.
- Packaging for online orders (corrugated boxes, bubble wraps, etc.) have a larger overall environmental impact compared with the impact of a plastic/paper bag consumers bring home from the mall.
"Sustainability is an important consideration for our employees, customers and other key stakeholders," said Mona Benisi, Senior Director of Sustainability at
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Simon is a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development and a S&P100 company (
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