Green Line by Brenda Kame’enui

I’ve done it more times than I want to admit, but now I think about the effect of a return before I buy. As online shopping has grown, returns have become part of the shopping culture.

In 2021, $218 billion in online purchases were returned. Retail shops also feel the pain of increasing returns.

While we like to think returns are restocked, a quarter of them (5 billion pounds worth) arrive unsuitable for restocking. From the back room, they go to the landfill. The 15 billion pounds that don’t get dumped must be examined and sent for stocking somewhere. It costs less for large retailers to throw away the goods than find another sales or recycling outlet.

We can picture the carbon footprint of destroying goods. Add to the picture hauling returned goods, which creates 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Good news is that resale is on the rise with retailers and consumers. Patagonia does not dispose of returned products and buys used Patagonia apparel to resell on its Worn Wear market. More companies to follow.

Keep the sweater and stay warm!