Is buying from an online store unecological?

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

Every once and a while I keep hearing comments, that buying from an online store should be avoided for environmental reasons. This is a very narrow view, and I would like to make a few remarks to paint a better picture of the whole system . Both online stores and brick and mortar are a variety of greatly different stores, and the environmental impact of overall operations cannot be inferred from the distribution channel alone.

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

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

In new related to e-commerce , attention has been paid to a carefree shopping culture. Products are ordered in large quantities and then returned. Partly, 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 easy to put in shopping carts. Very rarely will it be thought that a returned product requires work to return to sales again. In the saddest cases, returned products go directly to disposal, as it is not profitable to refurbish a very cheap product.

There are also changes happening, for example, some large online stores have stopped delivering to customers who repeatedly return a large part of the products they have ordered. Another way to curb irrelevant orders is to charge for delivery and / or returns. At this point, profitability and ecology go hand in hand. It is in no one’s interest that there are packages traveling in the world “for fun”.

However, it is good to be aware of the proportions as well. The sale of clothing through brick and mortar shops still accounts for the majority of clothing sales, and irresponsible shopping also takes place there. The situation is no better when we hit the stores enthusiastic about cheap prices and crazy promotions, in large numbers. A curious show was seen at the opening of Tripla, for example, last autumn, when customers were hoarding cheap novelties. wrecking the store and products doing so.

The whole life cycle of the garment should be 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 quite little importance.

I have also heard the argument that the products travel online stores in small units far away from the world and therefore it is more harmful to subscribe to one product, like a tightly crammed container load. This is, of course, true in the case that that container is here an unwanted item that is sold and lasts a long time for its buyer to use. However, this is not always the case, but also the large quantities of containers that arrive here at the stone-foot shops leave unsold. In this case, they may travel through several intermediate stages to their final disposal site (as waste) somewhere in the world. This place could be in Africa, for example. If the product has been manufactured in many different Asian countries, eventually ending up in Africa via Northern Europe, as well as many of the clothes we use, the overall picture has little effect on the packaging format in which the product reaches the consumer.

Also, a single parcel does not usually arrive from the country of manufacture. In the case of a product distributed in Europe, the products first come from the factory to a logistics center, for example in Europe, from where individual orders are sent to the e-commerce customer. Logistics chains are also very efficient. The parcel would only travel in a private ride for the last few kilometers at most.

The brick and mortar shops also have their burdens

In addition to transportation, it is also worth noting that brick and mortal shops really need the physical store where we can buy products. For some reason, I have not seen any discussion of the environmental impact of building shopping centers 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 for us to have shops.

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 folded and hung for purchase. Judging from the large parking spaces, going to the store often requires private transportation, and not nearly every time you actually shop. So when we go to the store “just to look,” to feel the wibes, 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 overseen. There are also a lot of small online stores that sell their own products, for example, as well as 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 of 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 our range are made from recycled, reused or surplus material. For example, we do not sell new cotton at all; we are not certified, we are 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 manufactured, some of the world's textile waste has not been generated or the textile already produced may continue to be recycled without being wasted from the fast lane.

We do not aim to sell the largest quantity and thus send as many packages as possible, but we sell 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. No product has come to us individually packed in plastic, nor does it leave from us packed in plastic either.

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, and for each outbound order, we make a small donation to them to plant trees for a carbon sink.


Knowledge increases pain and it is impossible to start thinking about all the effects of one’s own actions. It is always necessary to cut corners in some extent, because life goes on and we are inevitably consuming 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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