As we’ve found out dissecting years of carbon emissions research, an individual’s perception on the environmental impact of their actions is often misleading. Most believe that you’re doing the environment a favor when you decide to skip your next Amazon order and run out to your local Target to pick up what you need. However, as we found out, this isn’t the case.

Three prominent researchers from Heriot-Watt University in The United Kingdom released a study that analyzed the “last mile” challenge and found that ordering online with home delivery likely causes fewer carbon emissions than going to the store!

As we dove into the details of this study, we found a few important qualifications that we think are important to share!

  • If an individual buys fewer than 24 items per shopping trip (or fewer than 7 items for individuals who use public transportation), it is likely that home delivery will emit less CO2
  • However, these findings require a few unique qualifications. They are based around the assumptions that:
    • The trip to the store was for the sole purpose of shopping and no other stops were made during the trip
    • The online delivery was delivered successfully on the first try
    • The shopper didn’t return the online delivery

So as the consumer, apart from being more thoughtful about your shopping choices, what can you do to limit your emissions? If you’re ordering online, be sure to have a location for your delivery driver to drop things off. Failed deliveries cause increased emissions. If you’re shopping in store, do your best to walk to the store or group all your shopping into one excursion to limit dedicated driving trips! Finally, be sure to recycle all of the boxes and packages your products come in!

With new and changing research on emissions, we want to do our best to continue supporting our community so that we can all live a more thoughtful and sustainable life. 

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