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[GreenYes] Online shopping - environmental benefits or not?

I think that both Amy and Steve presented some of the benefits that one can achieve by buying through the internet. Certainly, one does have better access to green retailers, and these firms can provide both lower-impact products and lower-impact packaging.

However, I continue to have questions about the broader marketplace. Most online purchases are for generic goods. When they arrive at my house, more often than not they are in a big corrugated box, often much larger than the object. The object is surrounded with some type of packaging material -- often clean newsprint or sealed-air polyethylene bags. Sometimes polystyrene peanuts. For many using the internet, they also choose high-speed delivery, meaning air shipment for at least a portion of the delivery chain. None of these things seem low impact to me.

Has EPA every looked at the question from a life-cycle perspective? What about the national labs?

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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>>> "Amy Hemmert" <amy@no.address> 01/03/06 08:03PM >>>

Well said, Steve.

One other point to keep in mind is that it's often difficult or impossible
to find the eco-products you're looking for at a store near you. Shopping
online avoids multiple car trips to various locations looking for specific
earth-friendly alternatives. Our company also ships orders in recycled or
salvaged boxes and we cushion each item with old newspaper, which we hope
our eco-conscious customers are either recycling or reusing. We take comfort
in the fact that by purchasing our products either online or in person, our
customers will be eliminating, on average, 67 lbs of waste per school year.
And...because our customers purchase from a photo on the Web, we do not have
to package our Web orders in the same packaging that our retailers expect.
We can get away with a reusable Zip-lock bag instead of fancy, eye-catching
display packaging. Our Internet packaging is waste-free and requires no
paper, diposable plastic, or ink--and it's much more cost-effective.

Amy Hemmert
Obentec, Inc.


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