The Impact of Sending Back Those Online Purchases

Day 136 – I have had my share of trips to Kohls to send back Amazon purchases. A majority of those trips come around the holidays, but they can also occur throughout the year. More times than not, I am not alone in line. There are plenty of other people waiting their turn to send back their items, as well.

I was at Kohls last week, returning baseball pants purchased from Amazon because they were the wrong size. I didn’t think to purchase different sizes of the same pants, so I could send back the pair that didn’t fit. I have learned that this is a common practice among online shoppers and retailers love it. The process is called bracketing. It’s when you “buy now and choose later”. Most of us are aware that returning unwanted items will result in more carbon emissions into the environment as a result of transporting those items. However, what most people don’t know is that there is an even bigger environmental impact.

“In the U.S., return shipping creates over 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – more than the emissions from 3 million cars. But most people assume that returned goods are simply resold, the same way that items discarded in a dressing room or left in a shopping cart are reshelved for sale in a store. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Five billion pounds of returned goods end up in U.S. landfills each year. Less than half of returned goods are resold at full price. Sometimes it’s cheaper to throw away merchandise than to repackage, re-inventory, store it, resell it, and ship it out again.” – Earth911

We can only hope that the U.S. will follow in the footsteps of France and ban companies from throwing away many kinds of unsold goods. In France, they now have to reuse, redistribute or recycle unsold products. However, we can not wait for the U.S. to make these changes. As consumers, we need to start taking some of the responsibility for this problem. When we’re making purchases, whether online or in-person, we need to make sure that we have done our homework on the product and are confident that we are purchasing the product we plan to keep. It is only through our responsible shopping practices that we will be able to help decrease the waste ending up in our landfill due to bracketing.

Tomorrow, a place to recycle your snack bags.

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