About e-commerce and consumption

Is buying from an online store unecological?

April 7, 2020

Now that e-commerce is very relevant due to circumstances, I would like to highlight a few things related to e-commerce.

You always hear comments that buying from an online store should be avoided for environmental reasons. This is a very straightforward straightening of bends, and I would like to make a few remarks in the debate.

Both online stores and brick-and-mortar stores have many outlets, and the environmental impact of overall operations cannot be inferred from distribution alone.

It is good that changes and phenomena related to purchasing are noticed and highlighted. In this way, our awareness is constantly increasing. It’s also good to be aware of the bigger picture of individual pieces in order to make truly more sustainable choices.

Any purchase is uneconomical if purchased unnecessarily, of poor quality, too much or too often.

About shopping culture

In e-commerce news, attention has been paid to a carefree shopping culture. Products are ordered a lot and also returned a lot. In part, this has been encouraged by large international online stores, which came to the market with prominent free deliveries and returns. We eagerly got involved in this, ordering many sizes and options and also returning a lot of them.

Cheap products are especially sensitive to shopping carts. It will rarely be thought that a returned product requires work to return to sales. In the saddest cases, returned products go directly to disposal, as it is not profitable to refurbish a very cheap product. 

There are also winds of change. For example, even some large Online Stores have stopped delivering to customers who repeatedly return a large portion of the products they order. Another way to curb so-called fun orders is to pay for deliveries and / or returns. At this point, profitability and ecology go hand in hand. It is in no one’s interest that there are packages in the world “for fun”. 

However, irresponsible shopping also takes place in stone-foot shops. The situation is no better when stores are enthusiastic about cheap prices and crazy promotions, right in large numbers. A special show was seen at the opening of Tripla, for example, last autumn, when customers were munching on stores in classless condition while hoarding a cheap novelty. 

The whole life cycle of the garment is taken into account

The journey between the store and the consumer, or alternatively between the e-commerce logistics center and the consumer, can only be a very small part of the journey the product makes in the world. before and after use. In the product life cycle, one part of the transport chain as a whole is of negligible importance. 

The brick and mortar shops also have their burdens

In addition to transportation, it’s also worth noting that stone-foot stores really need the physical store where we can buy products. For some reason, I have not seen any discussion at all about the environmental impact of building shopping malls in relation to the end product. While we see how huge construction projects are being done to build shopping malls, we often do not cross-link the resulting environmental burdens with any product sold. However, these giant construction projects are being done because we would have shops to go shopping with.

When the mall is complete, it will require lighting, air conditioning and heating, escalators, elevators and digiscreens. And of course all the furniture on which the products are scythe and hung for purchase.

Judging by the large parking spaces, going to the store also often requires private transportation, and not nearly every time you actually shop. So when we go to the store “just to look,” to look for the product we need, to flaunt or feel, we may well make quite a few trips per product purchased.

There are various kinds of online stores

The general debate certainly applies to the largest chains, but there is a danger that small players and the diversity of online shops will be forgotten. There are also a lot of small online stores and online stores that specialize in a particular theme.

In this way, e-shops diversify the offer to customers, especially in this large and sparsely populated country. For example, many more ecological clothing options are available to more customers through an online store.

The advantage of specialization is also the importance of the product to its buyer. For example, when ordering a handmade product directly from its author or a certain spare part for your own beloved hobby, the product is likely to be ordered for need and use. 

We also have a lot of domestic online stores. When a package is sent from Finland, the e-commerce order is most likely sent as a package among other domestic packages.

The greatest environmental impact on clothing arises from the manufacture of the garment

However, the most important thing in the ecological debate is to realize that most of the environmental load on a garment comes from the production of the raw material itself and the manufacturing process of the garment. It is therefore much more relevant to choose carefully, rather than the method of distribution, what to buy. Another important thing is  how long one wears a piece of clothing. The third is how one maintains the garment

How is ecology implemented in Upcycler's online store?

When I started the company, I wondered for myself if an eco-based company could be an online store. I came to the conclusion that you can strive. 

First, it's the biggest influencer: the raw material. The products in the range are made from recycled, reused or surplus material. For example, I don’t sell new cotton at all; I am not certified, I am not organic. Only recycled, reused, surplus or used. In this way, we are able to avoid much of the environmental damage. At the same time as the products have been made, some of the world's textile waste has not been generated or the already made textile can continue to be recycled without being wasted from the fast lane.

I am not trying to sell the largest quantity and thus send as many packages as possible, but I am selling so-called slow fashion. The products are made to last a long time, both in terms of quality and design. One good replaces many bad ones.

Most of the products are also made in the local area; In Finland, Estonia, or even within walking distance. The company's daily operations also rotate within a radius of a couple of kilometers, so transportation is minimized. 

For our wasrehouse, there is 15 square meters of space, which is heated in winter by geothermal energy and in the spring-summer season uses solar energy from its own panels.

When products are not handled in large logistics centers or transported over long distances, the need for packaging is also significantly reduced. The products do not come to Upcycler in heavy plastic packaging individually, nor do they source from here when packed in plastic.

However, every activity always has a trace, one way or another. For example, e-commerce shipments must, of course, be packaged somewhere. To compensate for these effects, I took action As a business partner of Istutapuita.fi, and for each outgoing order, I make them a small donation to plant trees for a carbon sink. 


Knowledge adds pain and it is impossible to start thinking about all the effects of one’s own actions. Straightening the bends is always necessary to some extent because life goes on and we inevitably consume something. 

If you want to make the most ecological clothing purchases possible, a good generalization is: focus on the material (recycled, used primarily) and buy the one you use for a long time, and take care of your purchase well. This is how you have already tackled the biggest problems :) 


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