How Wasteful and Harmful Returns Are for the Environment

Imagine the environmental toll of all those returns we make after online shopping. It's not just an inconvenience – it's wasteful and harmful to the planet. Every year, millions of items are sent back, leading to increased carbon emissions, pollution, and overflowing landfills. In this blog post, we'll delve into the environmental impact of returns and share tips on how you can minimize your carbon footprint.

What to Consider When Making a Return

  1. The Environmental Impact of Returns

    Returning an item sets off a domino effect, involving multiple trips – from the retailer to the manufacturer, and even to the landfill or incinerator. This process burns up transportation, energy, and resources, releasing harmful carbon emissions and pollution into the atmosphere. Every return carries its own carbon footprint, encompassing the energy consumed during production, transportation, and disposal.
  1. The Economic Impact of Returns

    Returns don't just hurt the environment – they hurt our wallets too. Retailers bear the brunt of return costs, covering shipping, repackaging, restocking, and disposal expenses. Consumers also pay the price, both for initial shipping and possible return fees. In addition, it is estimated that only 54% of all packaging is recycled. This vicious cycle of returns not only generates waste, but also drains resources for all parties involved.
  1. The Dark Side of Fast Fashion

    The fast fashion surge has intensified the cycle of product returns, posing a significant cost to companies. Rapid and cost-effective production processes in this sector often result in lower product quality, increasing the likelihood of returns. Moreover, the industry encourages us to continuously refresh our wardrobes, promoting frequent buying and returning of items. Unfortunately, these returns not only harm businesses financially but also contribute to landfill waste, emitting a staggering 27 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This unending cycle of production, consumption, and disposal only exacerbates the adverse impacts of climate change. It's crucial that we prioritize eco-conscious choices to mitigate these effects.

How to Lighten Your Carbon Footprint

While completely eradicating returns may be challenging, there are steps you can take to minimize your impact. First, opt for items that fit well and truly meet your needs. This way, you can avoid making impulse purchases, which often lead to returns. Additionally, consider supporting sustainable brands that prioritize eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes. When making returns, choose the most sustainable shipping method available, like reducing packaging or selecting a carbon-neutral delivery service. Here at Blue Urbane—our packaging is eco-friendly and plastic-free. Check out our packaging video!

The Power of Sustainable Practices

It's crucial to realize the power of our choices and prioritize sustainable practices, such as waste reduction, mindful consumption, and supporting eco-friendly brands. As consumers, we have the ability to vote with our wallets and consider the environmental footprint of the brands we support. By making intentional choices, we can all play a part in safeguarding the environment for future generations.


To put it simply, returns may seem convenient, but they come at a great cost to the environment. The environmental and economic impacts of returns are significant, and it's our responsibility to minimize them whenever possible. Through conscious purchasing, support for sustainable brands, and waste reduction, we can all make a difference in reducing our carbon footprint and preserving the planet for generations to come.