What does free 2-day shipping have to do with climate change? Quite a lot, actually. It’s inefficient, resulting in more partial-load delivery trucks on the road spewing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing traffic congestion. In Laura Paddison’s report on Huffington Post, she points to a multi-year study by the University of Delaware, that looked at how online shopping in Newark, Delaware, was having a negative impact on the transportation system, especially for emissions. Delivery trucks catering to quick two-day deliveries are unsustainable, inefficient and because there are many more trucks on the road, it increases the amount of greenhouse gases.
Check out this interesting video produced by VOX and the University of California clearly showing the impact of online shopping and some solutions. But the convenience may be overshadowing the long term environmental consequences. To get a package you ordered to you on time, a company may have to ship a purchase from a distant location, sometimes by air, which also increases emissions. And quick, free shipping, while it may save you a trip to the store in your car, costing time, emissions, and road wear, it also contributes to induced demand and over-consumption, which are at the root of the human threat to and toll on the sustainability of life on Earth.