Green shopping

On the face of it you might think that online shopping over the internet is better for the environment than traditional shopping methods. After all, individuals hopping into their individual vehicles and tootling down to the shops, emitting greenhouse gases as they do so, has to be bad worse for the environment than someone staying at home and ordering their supplies via the internet, doesn’t it? That was the question that researchers wanted to find a definitive answer to in a new study.

The study was done in the city of Newark, Delaware, USA and involved collection of data via surveys to establish shopping behaviour by product category and then simulating environmental impacts through four variables; Travel time, delay, average speed, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The results showed that while “e-stores” do require less space and use less energy (assuming the store in question doesn’t also have a physical retail space) there are also negative environmental effects from online shopping.

According to the researchers internet shopping puts more delivery trucks on the road leading to more wear and tear on roads and also increased pollution in the form of fine particulate matter from diesel engines. Additionally, the suburban streets in which the delivery trucks travel were not designed to accommodate frequent truck stops, parking, and unloading. This will cause traffic interference, delays, and compromised road safety.

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that the total number of vehicle kilometres travelled has not decreased at all with the advent of internet shopping. It seems likely that the time people save shopping on the internet is spent going to cafes, to movies, or visiting friends.

In net internet shopping puts more stress on local transportation and greater greenhouse emissions are a result. It just goes to show that things aren’t always as they might seem; it pays to dig.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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