free shipping over £50 | click & collect

The Impact of Online Returns

It's no surprise that the succession of lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 has significantly increased the nation's appetite for online shopping. A 2021 survey revealed 75% of respondents had increased their online shopping in the past year. Although this is to some extent good news for struggling retailers, it has also resulted in a huge increase in returns.  A recent report shows that between 30-40% of clothes bought in the UK are returned. Returns are an inevitable part of shopping online, but what happens to garments that are sent back, and what's the environmental impact of returns? 

Transport Emissions 

As retailers struggle to compete with online giants like Amazon, returns processes have become practically seamless, and in most cases free, and shoppers often deliberately over-purchase with the intention of returning items.  A study by Barclaycard showed that 19% of people admit to always ordering multiple sizes of the same garment. 

Unfortunately emissions caused by the transportation of returns are significant. A study in the US by Optoro showed that returned inventory creates over 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, that's the equivalent of the output of 3 million frequently-driven cars, in the US alone.

Returned to Landfill

It's not just transportation of returns that's detrimental to the environment. A significant proportion of clothing sent back to retailers either can't be resold due to damage, or it's simply more cost effective to throw it away. This means millions of tonnes of perfectly good garments and other products are thrown away every year. Most of these items won't be recycled and will end up in landfill, releasing greenhouse gas emissions as they break down, or never properly breaking down at all, resulting in disastrous consequences for future generations. 

How We're Working To Reduce Online Shopping Emissions

It's hard to get the fit right first time when shopping online, but if you're not sure about sizes try contacting the retailer before you buy. We're always happy to help with questions about fit!  Email us at or call 020 7682 0506.

If you do need to return something please drop it back to the store if you can - we're open every day:

Mon - Fri: 10:30 - 18:30
Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00
Sunday: 11:00 - 18:00

We've started working with zero emissions carrier HIVED for London postcodes, and you can arrange to return your order with them too.  If you live outside London you can choose to offset the emissions of your postage by selecting the carbon offset button when you check out. 


Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published