Monday, May 6, 2013

Could an online order of your groceries be better for the environment?

     A lot of the time, when it comes to trying to be greener, people have to inconvenience themselves to make an environmental difference. With grocery shopping this no longer has to be the case. At the University of Washington, studies have shown that it is better for the environment to order your weekly grocery needs online than actually driving in to the market yourself. The study revealed that carbon emission from delivery trucks actually produce 20 to 75 percent less carbon dioxide than the corresponding personal vehicle driven to and from the supermarket. On top of that, when the delivery routes are clustered together, up to 90 percent less carbon dioxide is produced. The study also revealed that emission reductions were recorded from the densest part of Seattle to the more suburban areas as well. In an article by TIME, the author explains how his time in big cities around the world have limited his ability to own a car and pick up groceries. With this delivery service, through companies like FreshDirect, he was able to get everything he needed right at his doorstep. He stated, “I can order groceries online, and FreshDirect will deliver to my door for free.”
    This idea of driving a truck to people’s houses for grocery delivery, and in doing so also cutting back on emissions, sounds like a paradox to me. These trucks, as stated before, produce less emissions than at least a fifth of the cars on the road in Washington. Does this mean these trucks are the average between a Prius and an old truck? Is this study telling us that averaged out among all the cars that these trucks doing multiple routes is better? [Pretty sure it's the latter.--JM] I fully support this transportation of groceries when the routes are clustered together because that makes sense to me that it would save on emissions. The problems that arise in my mind is that not everybody in an area will use this option, therefore not being clustered. Also, even though the businesses will be saving money on operating costs, like fuel, and therefore cutting back emissions, what about the human element in the stores? The flashy advertisements in the store no longer have any appeal to the buyer if they are on their computer and not physically in the store. Could this counteract the savings made on the operating costs? The idea that something is easy and green seems a little shady too. Although with advancements in technology I suppose we could already be where green and easy can be used to explain one and another. This delivery system seems to work in the United Kingdom so I suppose it could work here too.
--Kellen Lamp

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