With Covid infection rates rising alarmingly, lots of us are choosing to buy our presents online this Christmas rather than venturing to the high street. However there is unfortunately an environmental price to pay for this convenience.
Buying a present from Amazon, for example, massively inflates the carbon footprint of the product because of the emissions caused by delivery.
Every product bought in a store will have a carbon footprint because of the transportation of raw materials to the factory for manufacture, and from the factory to the store or warehouse. However, the most significant emissions are usually what is known as 'last mile’ emissions - transportation from store or warehouse to the customer's home. Last mile emissions from a trip to the shops are usually negligible, but products that are shipped directly to your home are often carried in large diesel-powered vans that do an average of 50 deliveries per trip. A single delivery can also involve multiple journeys, if the recipient isn't at home or if the item is then returned. Companies whose selling point is super-fast delivery (we're looking at you Amazon) often dispatch parcels separately, so a van may be carrying only one or two orders, again increasing the carbon footprint of the product.
So how can you reduce the impact of your Christmas shopping? The most obvious solution is to shop locally, using public transport, walking or cycling. But if you are trying to avoid crowded places there are a few more solutions:
Most of us have had some bad experiences with Royal Mail in the past, but they're actually one of the most sustainable ways to send or receive a parcel. They have the best carbon record of all the delivery companies, due to their 'feet on the street' approach to delivery. In recent years they have also invested heavily in sustainable vehicles, including electric vans and power-assisted trollies to help posties carry more in each load.
Avoid the Big Offenders
DPD and Hermes use diesel trucks that produce more emissions per delivery than other carriers. Some of the largest online retailers (like Amazon and ASOS) use both of them.
Sustainable Delivery Options
There are new solutions to reduce the emissions caused by delivery, particularly in cities. Hived is a courier company with a difference. They use cargo bikes and electric vans to deliver across London. Not only do they reduce air pollution in the local area, but they also provide a super-efficient service, with orders arriving next day.
We use Hived for orders to most London postcodes, and you can order up until midday on the 23rd December for those last minute presents. Deliveries that fall outside of Hived catchment area are made by Royal Mail, so you'll need to place your order by 21st December for delivery before Christmas.