Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are You Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

When push comes to shove, the holiday season is when online retailers truly fly or flop. This year, discerning readers have given us a new criterion for deal-hunting; eco-sensibility. Providing eco-sensitive products and manufacturing is a noticeable upward trend among Canadian online retailers this season, and apparently consumers are more than willing to pay for it. Despite the eco-commerce boom, there are two looming questions for bargain-hunters across the country: “How is it green?” and “How can I get a deal?”

There are several ways in which to gauge the green quotient of a particular product. Primarily, the deciding factors are production methods and the materials. An increasing number of cosmetic companies are choosing all-natural, organic products with little or no packaging. Most are also using biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly shipping methods. Some will even “carbon offset” your order as an added incentive to buy online. Where foam “noodles” were once used to cushion breakables like jewelry or electronics, corn starch or sugar cane can be formed into similar material and will dissolve when soaked with water. A popular trend among clothing retailers is organic fibres like bamboo, hemp, soy or cotton and water-based silk-screening rather than the use of harsh chemicals. Many retailers are offering reusable shopping bags as well reducing the waste associated with your purchase.

Overall, there is good revenue basis for retailers to become eco-friendly. According to a recent survey by Environics Research Group, "75 per cent of Canadians surveyed were likely to change their shopping habits to purchase more environmentally friendly goods and services." In some cases, simply claiming to support eco-initiatives can garner some good press and an increase in sales. Retail and manufacturing companies are not the only ones affected by this change in consumer habits. Now more than ever, Canadians are shirking energy-sucking retail stores altogether in favour of shopping online.

Here at, we’ve noticed the green shopping trend and its increasing relevance to online shoppers. In response, has recently added a “green” section, where online shoppers can compare prices and find deals on eco-friendly products and services.

According to site founder Derek Szeto, "There are many Canadians who would prefer to buy eco-friendly products, but find them too expensive. Since the purpose of websites such as is to help consumers save money on the products they want to buy, providing a section that focuses on affordable green shopping is something we deemed very important."

Szeto points to the online community here at as the model for consumer behaviour. "Our readers are among the savviest online consumers in Canada," he adds, "and a growing number not only judge retailers and products based on price, but also on ecological soundness. People are starting to considering green products, even if they may cost a little more. As such, the Green Section aims to provide content that is mindful of monetary and ecological value."

Most companies are not shy about their environmental commitment, but since the trend is still young, information and deals can sometimes be difficult to track down. If you don’t find the information on their website, try e-mailing them to ask about it, or check out the discussion forums on for suggestions.

Published, December 13 2007