European portal Statista projects global e-commerce to cross the US$4.88 trillion mark by 2021. The figure will not surprise anyone- industry experts or consumers. Convenience and value for money are two of the main features that are attracting everyone to shop online.
However, there are other benefits of online shopping too: It is good for your health and surprisingly for Planet Earth. This may sound stretching benefits of online shopping a bit too far, but studies worldwide conclusively prove these facts. Therefore, we look how online shopping is good for your health and the planet.
Online Shopping & Health
Time for Fitness
Critics blame online shopping for spawning couch potatoes and providing incentives for people to shun physical activity that occurs while buying at stores. This could be partly true. At the same time, online shopping saves time you would otherwise have spent driving a car or riding public transport to a store. Instead, this time can be utilized for fitness activities such as jogging, bicycling or more complex Yoga and exercises at a local gym.
Online shopping is not limited to consumer durables and packed food. Food delivery services that procure meals from multiple sources and provide doorstep delivery are the feature in the list.
Hence, you can place orders for food that suit your dietary needs. For example, low salt, low sugar, gluten-free, fat-free and myriad varieties of meals are available fresh through online food delivery services.
The next time you need to buy expensive prescription medicines, search for online pharmacies. In countries where the practice is legal, online pharmacies are able to source cheap medicines from very reputed foreign companies.
Manufacturing standards of these pharmaceutical companies conform to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. Additionally, these pharmacies also provide generic versions of your medication. Buying medicines online ensures you get them cheap and can continue treatment even when funds are low.
You can subscribe to an online healthcare provider and get advice on healthy lifestyle, side effects of medicines or simply ask questions about a medical condition you may develop.
Online healthcare portals also help you fix appointments with doctors and chat with medical professionals on a variety of health-related issues.
Further services such as diagnosing medical reports and getting advise on a line of treatment are also possible when you buy services from online healthcare providers.
Coming back to online stores, you can choose a wider range of products from different online stores than ever before. Further, online stores ensure that packaged food products they sell such as cereals, pulses, edible oil, jams, spices, ketchup, sauces, and beverages are fresh.
Online stores try and avoid returns by the customer since taking a product back involves expenses on logistics and manpower. Product ranges of online stores are vast. This means you can select food products best suited to your needs.
Online Shopping & Planet Earth
Online shopping helps you fuel because you do not need to drive between a store and home. It is common knowledge that using gasoline pollutes the atmosphere. An online store will use a vehicle to deliver your order. The same vehicle will also cover other customers in your area.
This results in reduced fuel consumption. Lower fuel consumption translates to lesser environmental pollution. It also helps you save money on gasoline. The proposed use of drones like Amazon Prime Air for delivering orders may eliminate the use of gasoline-powered vehicles altogether.
While the use of drones is still in early embryonic stages, Amazon states it is working with regulators around the world to popularize the concept because it is environment-friendly and can deliver stuff within 30 minutes of placing an order.
When you shop online, the stuff arrives at your doorstep in biodegradable packaging. This means the carton or wrapper used by the online store does not pollute the environment. The packaging is made of non-toxic material and can be disposed of safely.
Alternatively, it can go for recycling. Cartons and wrappers used by online stores are also made of recycled products. Hence, you indirectly prevent felling trees for paper mills. Plastic wrappers used by online stores comply with environmental standards. Unfortunately, plastic carry-bags issued by brick-and-mortar stores tend to be disposed of carelessly and cause environmental problems.
Lesser Real Estate
Online stores do not operate as large physical malls or have gigantic warehouses. As a result, they do not need large infrastructure whose construction involves imminent air, water, soil and noise pollution.
This also eliminates the need for construction machinery that would operate on hydrocarbon fuels or guzzle electricity. Malls and stores require massive amounts of electricity. In comparison, online stores do not require much electrical power. Hence, you help the planet by reducing electrical pollution.
Brick-and-mortar stores spend heavily on advertising new products, special offers, and promotions. This is done with banners, posters, and flyers, among others that will be rendered useless after some time.
Unless disposed of properly, such promotional material can pose an environmental hazard. Online stores announce new arrivals, sales, and promotions through ads that pop up on your smart-phone or while browsing the Internet. Hence, there is no environmental impact.
Online retailers have very stringent quality control procedures. This means they will sell only green products or those known to have a minimal adverse impact on the environment. Products that do not meet green standards are being weeded out by online stores.
Hence, shopping online ensures you get green products or those which do not pose severe environmental risks. They have standard procedures to handle products like leaking or faulty mobile phone batteries that can pollute the environment.
Some online stores have exchanged offers as part of their green drive. It allows you to get some discount on your order when you hand over an item that could be potentially toxic if thrown away.
Though still in embryonic stages, a lot of research is now underway to find the environmental impact of online shopping. Medical experts are also finding if online shopping has any significant health benefits.
Online shopping has shown some positive and negative effects on mental health. Online shopping is good for your mental health because it gives that sense of excitement and satisfaction typical to buying at brick-and-mortar stores. On the other hand, online shopping is also known as addictive. But results, either way, remain inconclusive at best.
The next time you shop online, remember to use the free time for some healthy activity. Also, think about the lower environmental footprint your order has caused.