What about our online shopping? The toothbrush, hair dryer, or running shoes we order on two-day delivery? If UPS careens down your street three times a day, the carbon is significant.

We often order one item in a hurry. If we drive to the store to buy a single item, our carbon footprint is slightly greater than online delivery. However, at the store we usually buy several things, which turns the burden back on delivery. Keep in mind, some small businesses cannot compete with online shopping and shut their doors.

Our fancy with speed almost triples the footprint of online delivery. The supplier doesn’t have the option to bundle orders and sends out vans that are less full and drive longer distances to satisfy our orders. Overnight or 2-day delivery is usually by plane, which plants the biggest carbon footprint. Do I really need the toothbrush or Halloween mask overnight?

A large percentage of home deliveries fail the first time (delivery truck must return with your parcel or you must drive 10 miles to a warehouse to pick it up). And, one-fifth of products are customarily returned, which doubles the carbon footprint. Many returned items are thrown away.

And then there’s all that packaging that ordering online creates…

Consider these options:
Order specialty items that you can’t get at home but shop at local stores for everything from Oregon-made face creams to eco-sourced toilet paper. Charmin, Bounty, and Costco’s own Kirkland toilet paper are all made with 100% virgin forest fiber, sourced in part from the climate-critical Canadian boreal forest.

Walk to the store. Short auto trips traveling 10-20 mph with lots of idling emit 1.2-2 pounds of CO2 per mile traveled. Bundle up and bundle errands.

– Brenda Kame’enui