Thursday, March 5, 2009
Buy.com: Shopping Online Is Greener
Aliso Viejo-based Buy.com is looking to convince consumers that buying stuff online is greener for the planet than driving to your local store: and is backing it up with an academic study. Buy.com provided data to a team at Carnegie Mellon University, which churned through that information to reach the conclusion that shopping online uses 35 percent less energy and carbon dioxide emissions, than traditional retail shopping. The study--which was published in December by the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon--modeled the energy use required to deliver a flash memory drive to a consumer, comparing the energy for a normal retail purchase and from shopping online. Based on the study, the biggest savings in energy use were due to reduced energy and carbon emissions from consumers driving their cars to the store; the study said that "Customer transport in the retail system is the most important parameter in the results." The energy gains in e-commerce were offset somewhat by additional packaging needed for delivering products from an e-commerce site, and transportation costs of freight trucks in delivery. However, consumers looking to "be green" in buying from online sites might heed the study's findings: going from truck-based, freight delivery from a carrier, to express (air) shipping provides minimal benefits, due to the huge increase in energy and carbon emissions required by airplanes used in express delivery.