According to a 2018 report, returns account for five billion pounds of waste sent to landfills and 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year in the United States.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 146 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) was landfilled in 2018. And the more items we return, the more we’re contributing to that insanely high number A number that only continues to harm the planet, as MSW landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.
Past data has shown that people are twice as likely to return the item they bought online vs in a store, but those in-store returns tend to have less of an environmental impact. So, while avoiding returns completely is the best way to help the planet, making in-store returns is a more eco-friendly way to go about it.
To keep clothing out of the landfills, it is recommended to try on items in-store to be sure you have the perfect fit prior to purchase. Shop secondhand when possible and buy from sustainable brands that handle returns responsibly.
In addition, think carefully about what you are buying to be sure it’s what you really love and need. If you regret the purchase possibly you can regift it or donate it. You may also try to fix a flaw you have noticed and/or resell it on your own.