How Home Deliveries From Online Shopping Increase Air Pollution
In 2020, deliveries from Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and others emitted as much carbon dioxide as burning 4.5 billion pounds of coal. Here's how you can help ease the load.
As brown UPS trucks, white FedEx vans, and gray Amazon vehicles jostle for space in cities and suburbs, they’re taking a steep toll on the environment and air quality around them.
The final leg of home deliveries in the U.S. was responsible for more than 4.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, according to a new estimate (PDF) from Stand.earth, an environmental advocacy nonprofit.
How to Make Your Online Orders a Little Greener
CR’s advocates say federal and state policymakers should set the most stringent possible emissions standards for delivery vehicles. But there are some things you can do when you shop online to limit the emissions that will accompany the package to your door, according to experts at CR and elsewhere:
Pick the slowest shipment speed available. The extra time allows companies to schedule and bundle deliveries so that they’re as efficient as possible.
Consolidate all your purchases in one box. Several retailers, including Amazon, offer this option. It might take longer to get your order, but combined trips to your home cut down on emissions.
Wait until you have several items you want to buy then place your order. This works best for small purchases that aren’t super time-sensitive. Keep a list of needs by your computer or on your smartphone, and wait to put in your order until it reaches critical mass.
Pick up packages from a nearby location like a UPS store or an Amazon locker at a Whole Foods. Again, that reduces emissions by consolidating deliveries. For extra efficiency, pick up your goods when you’re running other errands. And if possible, walk, bike, or take public transit to the store. That way, you’re cutting out a vehicle trip entirely.