E-commerce and its mission to adapt to sustainable consumption

E-commerce and its mission to adapt to sustainable consumption

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Electronic commerce (e-commerce, as it is known globally) has been positioning itself as the best way to buy for several years, not only because of its speed and accessibility, but also because of the convenience it offers the consumer. Although many do not know it, in the beginning it had another strong point: it was the most ecological option.

However, with the passage of time the situation has changed a lot, and now this would be one of the most harmful trade channels that we can find, especially in countries where mass and irresponsible consumption is encouraged, such as China and the United States. Consumption seasons such as Black Friday would be one of the most polluting (1).

But, is there a way to "convert" it into a more positive option?

E-commerce, a double-edged tool?

Although e-commerce was initially positioned as a solution to the environmental damage caused by traditional commerce, over time we witness something different: the significant growth in consumption, and the need to pack and ship products to different cities and countries. , pollution began to increase.

This is how e-commerce stopped being a positive alternative for the problems posed by buying in physical stores, and became one of the biggest concerns for those seeking to protect the environment.

Cases such as the increase in consumerism in China, and the emergence of festivities such as Singles Day, in which thousands of tons of waste are generated, are only the tip of the iceberg (2).

The evolution towards "eco friendly“

That is why in recent years we have also seen the emergence of alternatives that seek to be "eco friendly”, Providing a similar experience but taking out of the environment those variables that can generate contamination along the way. Some of these are as follows:

  • Ecological and inclusive packaging

One of the great problems of electronic commerce is the need to package each product for protection. We are not talking about a single box cover, but packages that can be wrapped by several layers of plastic, cardboard, and paper that will be discarded (unconsciously) in most cases.

Faced with this problem, eco-friendly packaging alternatives have emerged that reduce the use of cardboard, eliminate plastics and adhesives, and are even made from recyclable or biodegradable materials.

  • Marketing without physical brochures

Another alternative that has emerged is that of virtual brochure platforms, which together with social networks have become perfect channels for wholesale and retail chains to make their offer known without having to print thousands of brochures. More and more companies choose to promote themselves in this way.

That is why Argentines can currently find out about the offers of Coto (3), Walmart, Carrefour, among other chains, without leaving home or having to manage and recycle dozens of brochures every month.

  • Low polluting shipping

Shipping a product, nationally and internationally, may require the use of cars, boats and airplanes, which generates an increasing pollution from the use of fuel.

Faced with this problem, we have seen the emergence of initiatives that seek to reduce the number of trips (sending several products at the same time instead of individual deliveries), as well as to encourage the use of ecological alternatives such as bicycle delivery people.

E-commerce still has a long way to go to truly be a green alternative, however, by applying changes like those outlined, it is possible that this road is much shorter.


(1) Greenpeace report on e-commerce pollution, published by

(2) Report on pollution in China, prepared by

(3) Coto retailer profile on the site

Video: Consumer Disclosure and Sustainable Supply Chains Work Group (February 2023).