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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: How to Make Online Shopping Habits More Sustainable

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In theory, online shopping is more eco-friendly than shopping in person. When one delivery truck takes the place of multiple car trips, it leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions. However, some common online shopping habits, such as frequent returns and multiple deliveries, could be better for the environment.

BBB recommends a few simple changes to make your online shopping habits more sustainable. Bundle your purchases. Get everything you need from an online retailer in one swoop whenever possible. Your overall environmental impact grows with each separate delivery you receive from a retailer. Instead of ordering each time you think of an item you need, try waiting until you have a few items in your cart to checkout and schedule a delivery.

Buy in bulk. If you can buy some of your most-used household items in bulk, do it. Buying in bulk means less packaging and fewer overall deliveries. Pick the slower delivery option. By being flexible with your delivery date, you help online retailers maximize delivery efficiency by consolidating orders. Avoid waiting until the last minute to make purchases, so you can accept a slower delivery option that is better for the planet. Avoid returns. Frequent returns, and the extra transportation they cause, can easily offset the environmental benefits of online shopping. This is especially true for the garment industry since many returned clothing items end up in landfills or incinerated. Instead of ordering a piece of clothing in a few different sizes and returning the ones that don’t fit, read customer reviews and check sizing charts to maximize your chances of ordering the right size on the first go.

Favor eco-friendly online stores. Many online stores pride themselves on being ethically transparent. If you can get what you need from an eco-friendly retailer that strives to offset any negative environmental impact, it might be worth paying a little more to get what you need.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.