Online Retailers Have the Ability to Help Us Become Green Consumers...So Why Aren’t They?

New research suggests that, given the choice, the majority of online consumers are willing to make the concessions needed to purchase a product that leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

A new study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences identified that online based companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix, and more have the ability to minimize their carbon footprint by providing their customers with added information about products’ environmental influences like greenhouse gasses and other ills.  The researchers tested their hypothesis on four different industries – retail, video streaming, ride shares, and housing shares and in all four found their hypothesis to be true. For the experiment the researchers designed legitimate looking sites for each industry, providing environmentally friendly options, and asked participants to proceed making choices as if they were legitimately making purchasing decisions for themselves.  The participants were given options such as lower video quality on streaming services and longer shipping time for retailers.

This study leads to the conclusion that consumers want the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprints by making wise shopping decisions, but they can’t do it alone. It is extremely difficult for an individual to measure the effects their purchasing decisions have on the environment; even if they dedicate the time to discern the repercussions of their purchase, their calculations may still prove incorrect. However, companies already have this information at their fingertips, so why aren’t they sharing it with their customers? 

Oftentimes, the answer is simple—it’s money. For example, the shipping test revealed that a lot of people love Amazon because of their quick shipping options. Consumers love quick shipping so much that are willing to pay hefty fees,  which is a great source of revenue for the company. 

While an environmental-effects disclosure feature may not be happening tomorrow, the push for green consumerism is more powerful now than ever before and if we continue to push towards the goal of slashing our carbon footprints, we expect to see features like these added to our daily lives in the future.unspl