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Online Retailers Going Green With Environmentally-Friendly Shipping Materials

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Online shopping has led to billions of boxes being sent to Americans every year. But it comes with tons of packaging waste and harmful emissions from trucks. Now, a new startup is trying to change that.

It's called the Olive shopping app is it has proven to be indispensable for Alexis Hochleutner, a mother of three who does much of her shopping online.

Hochleutner's shopping increased exponentially during the pandemic.

"My husband jokes that every day that ends in a 'y' there's a brown box appearing at your door," Hochleutner said.

Concerned about the environmental impact, she decided to try something new called Olive.

Olive is an app that allows shoppers like Hochleutner to buy from hundreds of retailers. Orders are delivered to her home once a week in a reusable tote, even if they're from different stores.

Here's how it works: When customers buy through Olive, the retailers send multiple orders at once in traditional packaging to Olive's warehouse. Olive places the items in the reusable tote and then recycles the cardboard and the plastic.

"Those usually end up in your typical waste streams because they're hard to recycle at home," said Olive founder Nate Faust.

Faust is now working to have retailers send Olive's totes directly to shoppers, eliminating more waste.

"We're seeing about a 20% reduction in the number of shipments that would be going to a consumer's home for their purchases through this consolidation," Faust said.

According to Faust, fewer shipments reduce pollution from delivery trucks.

Other companies do something similar. Some retailers are using reusable packaging from RePack to ship their products.

Another company, Loop, sells hundreds of household items in reusable containers.

"There's a lot of things that I try to set an example for my children and fail miserably, but, you know, I think it's super easy to be able to set an example with recycling," Hochleutner said.

She hopes this environmentally-friendly form of shipping will be an example for more businesses to follow.

There are no additional shipping costs to use Olive.

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