If you’ve been feeling smug about how little you’ve driven since the pandemic began, don’t forget to factor online shopping delivery into your carbon footprint. That’s becoming an even bigger concern for this year’s Black Friday, which many stores have been celebrating all month long with online deals as the pandemic keeps storefronts closed or operating at limited capacity.
“The Black Friday problem is that retailers are created a huge peak in demand which needs to be met immediately,” said Greg Marsden, a professor at Leeds University, as reported by the BBC. “There’s the same issue with deliveries of chocolates and flowers when it comes to Mother’s Day.”
Online shopping deliveries from Black Friday sales will release about 429,000 metric tons of emissions, as predicted by price comparison website Money.co.uk. This is akin to flying back and forth between New York and London 435 times.
Money.co.uk’s survey found that while 85% of U.K. consumers said they plan to shop the Black Friday specials, only one in 10 had considered how all those deliveries will impact the environment. The survey also rated delivery services. The Royal Mail took first prize as most carbon-conscious, because its fleet of 90,000 postal workers deliver packages mostly on foot. Amazon’s option of letting people pick up packages from one of 16,000 local businesses was applauded for cutting down on delivery miles. UPS got the top marks for incorporating electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet.
As consumers have become accustomed to having a world of shopping options at their fingertips, they want things faster, and most don’t want to pay more. Thirty-five percent of Money.co.uk’s respondents admitted to choosing next day delivery, the least green option. Young shoppers aged 16 to 24 were the likeliest to factor the environment into their delivery options, with 16% considering emissions when making online purchases. However, the 80% of people aged 45 to 54 who look for the least expensive shipping option are also helping the environment, even if they’re motivated by thrift.
One of the problems with consumer impatience on Black Friday is that delivery companies sometimes hire extra drivers to help out when their regular personnel can’t keep up with demand. In many cases, these temp drivers are using their own less-efficient vehicles. The moral of the story? Try to only click “next-day delivery” when you honestly need something tomorrow. After all, if you’re shopping for Christmas presents on Black Friday, that gives you almost a month before Santa’s due.
Image via Joshua Woroniecki