Have you ever stopped to think if online shopping actually saves you time, money and/or energy?  We have. Hence, it’s time to find out which solution is actually greener.

It’s a no-brainer that online shopping is convenient. You can shop online from virtually anywhere including your bed, workplace or even in the car (obviously not if you’re driving). This is beyond useful, and it seems like much less effort is required when shopping with your fingertips as opposed to getting in your car and driving to the shopping mall or boutiques. The real question here is whether online shopping saves the energy you assume it does.

When shopping online, your time may not be as restricted as when you go to the mall. In theory, you can keep your browser open all day with articles of clothing, accessories or gadgets in your carts and go back and forth between different stores’ websites. All the while, you’re probably not thinking about the amount of time you’re spending shopping or your energy usage.

At this point, your laptop may be getting warm -- hinting you’ve been on it for a while -- but that probably doesn’t prompt an epiphany that you’re wasting a lot of energy by browsing and shopping on the internet for hours. So, is this actually greener than driving to the store, browsing, buying and splurging and then driving home?

According to a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, driving to the mall is not the green route. In fact, those that prefer online shopping are actually doing the environment a favor. Results from this study suggest that online shopping via Buy.com led to 35 percent less energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions than more traditional retail shopping. Since there’s no transportation required in online shopping, there are no carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere like when you drive to stores. These findings suggest that what makes the traditional retail shopping model the non-green option is that transportation plays a key role.

Despite these findings, many people still enjoy the experience of traditional shopping. Virtual shopping doesn’t offer all that traditional shopping does such as the opportunity to try things on before buying them, seeing the fabrics or the ability to ask questions about the particular item you’re interested to store personnel. Although it’s unrealistic to encourage all purchases to be made online, next time you need to head to the shopping mall try to ditch the car and take an alternative method of transportation such as city buses, carpooling or even walking (if it’s close) to make your shopping experience a tad bit greener.

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