How Your Christmas Shopping Could Harm Or Help The Planet

How Your Christmas Shopping Could Harm Or Help The Planet
Many consumers are concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping habits, especially at Christmas. AAP

Australian shoppers are, in the words of the retail industry, “stampeding” to empty our wallets, both online and in stores.

The shopping frenzy is not good for the planet. It generates a mountain of waste including plastics, and decorations, wrapping paper and party paraphernalia only used once. It also involves thousands of air and road miles to transport goods, which creates up to 650kg of carbon dioxide per person.

But amid the spending spree, consumers are becoming more concerned about environmental impacts. A survey of shoppers found one-quarter would prefer to receive a “socially conscious or eco-friendly” Christmas gift.

If you’re one of those people, read on to find out what Australian retailers are doing to help the environment.

How Your Christmas Shopping Could Harm Or Help The Planet
Supermarkets are leaders in the retail field on climate action. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

The climate crisis

Responding to climate change is in the interests of retailers. The Department of the Environment and Energy has warned Australian businesses will be affected by higher temperatures, altered rainfall, bushfires, heatwaves, drought and storms. These can affect food production, the movement of goods and people’s ability to shop, among other things.

In Australian retail, supermarkets are leading the way on climate action.

Coles recently announced a deal with renewables developer Metka EGN. The supermarket giant will buy around 10% of its electricity from three new solar plants in New South Wales.

Woolworths has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below 2015 levels by 2030, and is installing natural refrigerants, or reducing refrigerant leaks, to reduce pollution.

Other retailers are also getting on board. Officeworks, in partnership with Greening Australia, is planting two trees for every one used, based on the weight of paper products bought by customers. It aims to both repair the environment and tackle climate change.

A YouGov report found 75% of Australian adults have thrown clothes away in the past year; 30% tossed more than ten garments. As fabrics break down, they release approximately three to four times their mass in methane and other greenhouse gases.

Some major clothing retailers are responding. For example H&M offers a garment recycling service to prevent clothes from going to landfill. Customers hand in a bag of old clothes which are either reused, reworn or recycled. H&M is also among several global brands to offer clothing rentals.

By the end of this year, all Zara clothing stores, including in Australia, will be eco-efficient. Such stores use at least 20% less electricity and 40% less water than conventional stores.

Turning the tide on plastic

In Australia, Coles and Woolworths were heavily criticised recently over their plastic toy giveaways.

Woolworths responded with the Discovery Garden promotion which gave out free plants. However Coles relaunched its plastic promotion, Little Shop minis, claiming a poll revealed 96% of customers who collected the items still had them, and the packaging could be recycled.

Woolworths is the first Australian retailer to commit to introducing TerraCycle’s zero-waste resusable packaging system, Loop. Shoppers would purchase certain products in packing that can be returned and reused.

Woolworths and Coles also dumped single use plastic bags in 2018, before many state governments had legislated for a ban.

Non-grocery retailers are also getting on board. For example IKEA now allows shoppers to return, recycle and reuse old furniture.

Why retailers are acting

There are compelling financial reasons for retailers to go green.

Shoppers are more likely to choose retailers that share the same values and beliefs they do - this is known as the “value-belief-norm” theory, and explains pro-environmental behaviours.

So people who care about the environment are more likely to shop with retailers who have a higher level of environmental performance. If the values differ, this creates mental discomfort in the consumer known as cognitive dissonance, and they are likely to shop elsewhere.

But the retailer’s actions must be authentic. Consumers are becoming more alert to the problem of greenwashing, when businesses make misleading claims about their green credentials.

And retailers can always do more. The World Economic Forum says for supermarkets, this should include all stores moving towards becoming packaging-free, selling only local, seasonal produce and clearly labelling all products to indicate their carbon footprint.

How Your Christmas Shopping Could Harm Or Help The Planet
Supermarkets should aim to become packaging-free. AAP

An eco-friendly Christmas

A number of online resources can help you have an eco-friendly Christmas. Buy goods produced locally, re-use or don’t use wrapping paper, reduce food waste with better storage and compost what you must dispose of. Recycle wrapping, send an e-card or gift voucher instead of a physical card or present, and plan well to avoid buying excess presents and food.

Be mindful of giving for giving’s sake. About $400 million was spent on unwanted gifts last Christmas, many of which probably went to landfill. The most unwanted presents included underwear, socks, pyjamas, candles and novelty items.

Or perhaps avoid the retail frenzy altogether, and consider having a present-free Christmas. The planet, and your wallet, will thank you.

This article was originally published in December 2019. 

About The Authors

Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania; Gary Mortimer, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, Queensland University of Technology, and Martin Grimmer, Professor of Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

by Mark W. Moffett
0465055680If a chimpanzee ventures into the territory of a different group, it will almost certainly be killed. But a New Yorker can fly to Los Angeles--or Borneo--with very little fear. Psychologists have done little to explain this: for years, they have held that our biology puts a hard upper limit--about 150 people--on the size of our social groups. But human societies are in fact vastly larger. How do we manage--by and large--to get along with each other? In this paradigm-shattering book, biologist Mark W. Moffett draws on findings in psychology, sociology and anthropology to explain the social adaptations that bind societies. He explores how the tension between identity and anonymity defines how societies develop, function, and fail. Surpassing Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, The Human Swarm reveals how mankind created sprawling civilizations of unrivaled complexity--and what it will take to sustain them.   Available On Amazon

Environment: The Science Behind the Stories

by Jay H. Withgott, Matthew Laposata
0134204883Environment: The Science behind the Stories is a best seller for the introductory environmental science course known for its student-friendly narrative style, its integration of real stories and case studies, and its presentation of the latest science and research. The 6th Edition features new opportunities to help students see connections between integrated case studies and the science in each chapter, and provides them with opportunities to apply the scientific process to environmental concerns. Available On Amazon

Feasible Planet: A guide to more sustainable living

by Ken Kroes
0995847045Are you concerned about the state of our planet and hope that governments and corporations will find a sustainable way for us to live? If you do not think about it too hard, that may work, but will it? Left on their own, with drivers of popularity and profits, I am not too convinced that it will. The missing part of this equation is you and me. Individuals who believe that corporations and governments can do better. Individuals who believe that through action, we can buy a bit more time to develop and implement solutions to our critical issues. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.