Now, this may seem counter-intuitive, but delivery by post is more sustainable than buying at your local store.
When we started Smyle, one of the first things we thought about was shipping. Because here’s the thing: we have a product that is good for the environment and will help to reduce waste, but it can not do any good if we cannot get it to you! And, of course, getting anything anywhere requires energy and fuel.
In order to understand how our shipping was going to affect the environment, we did a little digging. According to this MIT study, in general, online shopping is more sustainable than buying from a brick and mortar store as long as is not rushed. Let us explain why that is and what we do to keep our carbon footprint under control.
First of all, a brick and mortar store (aka, a physical store you can walk into with your body) does not have the luxury of knowing how much of any item it is actually going to sell. As a result, the store has to stay fully stocked, and that is accomplished by shipping items to nearby warehouses and then to the stores, usually by freight truck. Sometimes goods need to be moved from location to location depending on sales and sales projections. On the flip side, an online retailer (hi, there you have us!) freights only to one warehouse where it stays until it is actually ordered, cutting down on unnecessary travel and multiple facility energy overheads.
Another factor to consider is the movement of the consumer (you!). In order to shop in a store, you need to get in your car and drive to that store. Of course, this is less of a factor if you live in a city and take public transportation or a bike, but we are generally speaking here. You driving to the store to pick up that tube has a carbon cost. With many people collectively driving their cars to individual stores, that carbon footprint adds up fast.
There is also the issue of packaging. The carbon footprint of the shipping packaging needs to be more robust than when you are buying something in a store. To mitigate that, we use recyclable cardboard packaging — every piece of a Smyle package is 100% recyclable or compostable. We also make sure it is appropriately sized and lightweight while durable enough to protect our glass bottles: no plastic bubble wrap, no plastic tape, no unnecessary void fill is used for that.
Finally, we want to talk about rush shipping —because this is where online shopping loses its advantage. With 2-day shipping options on the rise, the environmental impact of online shopping is going up and up. Because of this, we do not offer rush shipping. There is a good chance a postal worker is going to come by your mailbox every single business day, whether you have mail or not. This person is using an existing postal route that is followed no matter what. By using existing mail box postal services, your Brush Mints essentially hitch a ride along this slow and predetermined system (a la the “public transit” of delivery). This significantly cuts down the carbon footprint of your delivery, similar as to when you take a bus instead of a car.
In contrast, when you select parcel delivery, a special trip is made to your house for your order which leads to a way higher carbon footprint.