The transportation and energy emissions involved in online shopping experience are not as green as you have been led to believe.
While the marketers are selling you the idea of converting to online shopping, you can be sure that they had been appealing to your good nature.
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They told you that it is easy, convenient, you will have way more time for other things including hanging out with family and friends and you will also save the planet.
The environmental movement which is already on the rise, is a nagging concern for every ordinary citizen. So if someone tells you that you will be saving the environment by shopping online. Well that’s all great and good.
You’re not getting in the car, driving to the mall, producing a carbon footprint and all that because you think that online shopping is just selecting items on you laptop or phone, ordering it and paying the bill on delivery. That’s half of the process.
The other process includes your order being transported in big delivery trucks that go around the country. They are huge trucks eating as much petrol as twenty cars put together, they are taking space, emitting a huge carbon footprint and blocking traffic and roads on those tiny downtown streets that were never made for driving bug trucks in.
All of this has been proven by a study conducted in which focused on the city of Newark, Delaware. Led by Arde Faghri, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Delaware Center for Transportation (DCT) and co-author Mingxin Li, a researcher at DCT.
The study included data collection through a survey to identify shopping behavior and summary of the survey results by product category, followed by simulation and analysis.
The results of the study showed that the online shopping behavior put extra load on the transportation agencies. The transport companies burden include the four measures established in the study including, travel time, delay, average speed, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The authors pointed out that while online shopping reduces individual effort and energy consumption, the delivery trucks more that make up for both factors in bulk.
"The increase in online shopping also affects land use patterns such as the number and size of stores in large shopping malls with vast parking spaces, as well as changes in labor markets, with, for example, less demand for sales personnel and more for truck drivers," he says.
The study has been focused on a very small area and the researchers agree that they will have to factor in more variables and a wider geographical area to find out whether their results are true for the entire population.
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Meanwhile they have published the study documented in a paper, "Impacts of Home Shopping on Vehicle Operations and Greenhouse Gas Emissions," in the International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology.