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Five Ways to Keep Your Holiday Returns from Contributing to 6 Billion Pounds of Landfill Waste


trash dump with bulldozer


Introduction:

At a time when the world is grappling with the negative consequences of excessive waste, it is alarming to discover that holiday returns alone can contribute to a staggering 6 billion pounds of landfill waste this year. This statistic highlights the urgent need for sustainable practices and responsible consumer behavior.


As a society, we have become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping, particularly during the holiday season. However, with this convenience comes a considerable environmental cost. When holiday gifts don't quite meet our expectations or fit our needs, it is common for them to be returned to the retailer. This seemingly harmless act of returning unwanted items significantly affects our planet's health.


Returning an item involves packaging it securely in a box, often with additional protective materials to prevent damage during transportation. The returned item is then shipped back to the retailer, adding to the carbon emissions generated by transport. Once the retailer receives the returned item, it is assessed for resale potential. Unfortunately, many returned items are deemed unsellable for various reasons, such as damage, missing parts, or outdated packaging.


These unsellable items often end up in landfill sites, contributing to the already mounting waste crisis. Landfills are not only an eyesore but also a significant source of pollution. As the discarded goods decompose, they release harmful greenhouse gases, including methane, which has a devastating impact on climate change.


So, what can we do to combat this alarming trend and reduce the environmental impact of holiday returns? Here are a few strategies that can make a difference:


1. Make Informed Purchases:

One of the most effective ways to minimize returns is to make informed decisions before purchasing. Review product descriptions, reviews, and size guides to ensure you buy items that align with your needs and preferences.


2. Clarify Doubts:

If you have any questions or concerns about a product, don't hesitate to contact customer service for clarification. This proactive approach can help prevent situations where items are returned due to misunderstandings or dissatisfaction.


3. Consider Alternative Solutions:

Instead of automatically returning an item, consider alternative solutions. For instance, can the item be altered or resized if it doesn't fit? If it's a clothing item, could it be donated to someone in need? Exploring these options can reduce the number of items returned to retailers.


4. Opt for Sustainable Packaging:

When ordering products online, request sustainable packaging options. Some retailers offer eco-friendly packaging materials or even packaging-free delivery options. By choosing these alternatives, you are reducing waste and sending retailers a message that sustainability matters.


5. Educate Others:

Spread awareness about the environmental impact of excessive returns and encourage others to adopt more responsible shopping practices. Sharing information through social media, conversations, or organizing local events can amplify the message and inspire positive change.


Retailers must play an active role in tackling this issue as well. They can implement better quality control measures, reduce excessive packaging, and develop innovative approaches, such as refurbishing or recycling returned items whenever possible. Furthermore, companies should also invest in sustainable packaging options and educate customers about the environmental impact of returns.


Conclusion:

The increasing trend of holiday returns contributing to 6 billion pounds of landfill waste demands our immediate attention. By adopting informed purchasing habits, considering alternative solutions, and advocating for sustainable practices, we can collectively reduce the environmental impact of returns. Individuals, retailers, and policymakers must work together toward a more sustainable future.


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