America's Addiction to Absurdly Fast Shipping Has a Hidden Cost

America's Addiction to Absurdly Fast Shipping Has a Hidden Cost

In theory, e-commerce can be greener than a bunch of shoppers making personal trips in their own cars: Consolidating products and delivering them on one route to a bunch of homes requires fewer miles on the road. However, that calculus changes significantly if items are coming from further away and have to be sent immediately, which creates fewer opportunities for lumping deliveries together.

Key findings

In the worst-case scenario, with one delivery per trip, the carbon emissions can be as much as 35 times greater than they would be for a fully-loaded delivery van.

Inefficient routes are not only more carbon-intensive—they're also more expensive for the shipper. If fast delivery is free, it's only because the retailer is subsidizing that delivery to fight for customers at a time of fierce competition and rapid growth.

In a test in Mexico that 52% of consumers were willing to wait longer when told at checkout that slower shipping would save trees.

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