Green Tip: Hidden Costs of 2-Day Shipping

Green Tip: Hidden Costs of 2-Day Shipping

 Photo credit: J Taylor

Photo credit: J Taylor

In today’s fast-paced consumer society, we never have to wait for anything. In fact, we don’t even have to leave the comfort of our homes to make most purchases. Online shopping has become so simple and accessible, it’s oftentimes easier than venturing outside of the house to go to the store.

Most of us are very familiar with online shopping – and with online shopping comes expedited shipping. On the surface, expedited shipping seems extremely convenient, especially with big corporations like Amazon or Walmart offering free 2-day shipping.

But as we all know, nothing in life is truly free. And hidden behind the convenience of “free” expedited shipping are very real environmental costs.

When you choose expedited shipping, the retailer rushes to get your package out on time. This can mean various things:

  • Packages are being shipped via airplane to quickly reach their destination. (Air travel is the most carbon-intensive of all types of transportation!)
  • Trucks are going out on delivery without being fully loaded. (Less packages in a truck = more trips = more fuel = more carbon emissions)
  • Companies have less time to figure out the most efficient travel routes. (This causes their deliveries to be even more energy and fuel intensive!)

Ultimately, expedited shipping makes for an increase in carbon emissions which only furthers our current climate crisis. We need to be more mindful about our purchases to ensure the future of our planet.

2 day shipping environmental costs express shopping online

This video shows a University of California researcher explaining the environmental costs of free 2-day shipping. Check it out if you are interested in learning more about the ways in which we can reduce our environmental impact!

What We Can Do

The best way to reduce our environmental impact is to evaluate our current habits and aim to do better.

Consider why you are shopping online in the first place.
Is the product you need available in your local community? If you find yourself browsing online for an item you can buy locally, make the decision to shop small and support a local business. Try biking or carpooling to the store to reduce your CO2 emissions even more!

Bonus: Local businesses tend to put a much higher percentage of their profits back into the local economy, and their tax dollars help build schools and infrastructure close to home!

Can you wait 3-5 business days for this product?
If you don’t have an urgent need for the items you are ordering online, choose standard shipping instead of expedited shipping! This ensures the retailer will have time to find the most efficient way to deliver your package.

Is the product you are ordering online likely to be returned?
If you know you are picky about clothes or home decor, don’t order online! Although many companies offer “free” return shipping, the environmental costs remain the same. Avoid additional delivery trips by shopping at local retailers when possible.


Remember, all of these small actions can add up to have a really large impact.

Our Planet Thanks You,