The Blue Green Blog

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Nowadays, it’s easy to click ‘buy now’ and make quick purchases on Amazon. Amazon has around 100 million subscribers to its Prime programme, which offers one-day shipping on 10 million products, and recently introduced free grocery delivery with a one-hour delivery window across various locations. Despite the convenience of quick delivery, there is a heavy burden on the environment.

Packages are usually delivered using fossil fuel-burning trucks, having been transported from where they where made, often by cargo plane or other freight transport. These deliveries produce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and there must be a better way for these delivery services to become an asset rather than a detriment to the environment.

Anne Goodchild, director of the University of Washington’s Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center, says that, just as mass transit moves lots of people efficiently, there are better ways to move goods. The postal service accomplishes that fairly well, with a consolidated system where one postal worker comes to a neighborhood to deliver all the mail in one trip.

Amazon is taking action to achieve this. It moves most of its inventory without air transport and is aiming to make 50% of its deliveries ‘net zero carbon’ by the year 2030.

Amazon customers can also take steps to lower the impact of next-day shipping on the environment, such as:

  • Choose slower shipping. Customers who wait up to five days for home delivery could help decrease carbon dioxide emissions by about 30% in the last mile of a delivery, according to research by Josue Velazquez, a research Scientist at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.
  • Choose ‘frustration-free packaging’ that is easy to open, uses less paper and plastic and is 100% recyclable. This packaging is available on some items, so search for ‘frustration-free packaging’ when shopping on Amazon.
  • Group items into one shipment by selecting Amazon Day as a Prime member, or choosing ‘fewest possible packages’ as a non-Prime member. This will reduce your individual carbon footprint.
  • Use the Amazon Second Chance Program where you can learn how to recycle Amazon packaging, reduce waste by trading in used items for Amazon giftcards and shop for discounted refurbished items.