Is online shopping sustainable?

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I personally considered Online shopping to be very sustainable. Saving a trip to the store and getting some serious discount was the highlight for online shoppers. I stopped buying online lately due bad experience with the quality of the product but I always thought that at least it saves you time via e-commerce.

But what about the emissions from fleets of delivery vehicles bringing orders to houses? Delivery trucks also contribute substantially to the burden of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, in the air, which is associated with many effects on human health. Especially when the product is returned (which happens in great number) there is likely to be more trips from the firm’s driver and not to mention, sometimes you are not at home and they have to return to your house again.

An increase in the number of home shopping purchases increases travel time, traffic delays, and vehicle emissions of the transportation network as a whole, the researchers say. While some previous studies suggest that e-commerce is associated with lower carbon emissions than traditional retail, other researchers have warned of a “rebound effect,” which occurs when gains in efficiency merely stimulate new consumption. Something similar may be going on in Newark, the results suggest.

But a recent study in Newark, Delaware suggests that the knock-on effects of online shopping may worsen traffic congestion and transport-related carbon emissions.Researchers at the University of Delaware conducted a survey of downtown Newark residents’ shopping habits and preferences and used the responses to calculate the quantity of goods purchased through home shopping.They also got information from delivery companies about the number of trucks on the road and the number of packages per truck, and used this to determine how many delivery trucks are required to distribute home shopping purchases.Finally, the researchers used transportation simulation software and data from local transportation authorities to determine the effect of delivery trucks on the transportation network, focusing on an area of downtown Newark that includes a portion of the university’s campus.They conducted similar analyses in 2001, at the dawn of the online shopping era, and again in 2008. They reported their results in a recent paper in the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

Read this journal to know more about the ill effects of Online shopping.

 

Source: Laghaei J. et al. “Impacts of home shopping on vehicle operations and greenhouse gas emissions: multi-year regional study.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology