the BIG carbon emitting convenience we all use way too much

Like most of my blog posts, this one comes with a caveat.  While I try to create a non-judgemental, safe space, at the shop, I’m getting a little jaded about two things.  1) people asking me to dispose of their single-use coffee cups. Sure drink your coffee in that cup, and I’m not judging, but we try to run super low waste and your coffee cup isn’t my responsibility (cruel? maybe…) and 2) people talking about the shit they bought on amazon. Yes I cursed.

So take this as a warning.  I’m likely going to get a little fired up on this one.  I don’t mean that in a judgemental way at all, just trying to relay some facts.

The point of this post is to spread a little awareness and get people thinking a bit more before they buy.  If you’re ordering ‘environmentally friendly’ products from amazon, you’re missing the point ENTIRELY. 

We all work so hard to earn our money, and yet we spend it without thinking at all. Time to flip the script on that a little bit.  I will try to keep my rant relevant, and on track.

Here we go!

The amount of times I hear ‘oh ya I bought something like that on Amazon and love them” in my store is really quite shocking.  Shocking because I literally can’t believe people aren’t more socially aware, but also because you are COMPLETELY missing the point.

At first blush, you would think deliveries might actually be lessening the carbon footprint because it saves all of those people individually driving to the store.  Instead of that, you would think the delivery company piles their products onto a truck, groups deliveries together in a logistical way, and gets all of those deliveries done in one go.

And yes, you would be right.  When shipping timelines weren’t one or two days, orders are grouped together, sensible routes are determined, and planet is saved!  But not anymore, not with these ‘get it today for free!’ delivery timelines. There is no time for thoughtfulness.

The Carbon.

The pressure for companies to get their products to our doorsteps in 24 hours means that shipments aren’t grouped and routes aren’t determined.  Amazon prime delivery drivers pick up your parcel, and take it to your house, like uber. So there are no trips saved, no economies of scale, no benefit. 

According to a CNN article (link will be included at the bottom of this post), the point a to point b delivery set up emits up to 35 times more carbon than a standard delivery van. There are hundreds of thousands of amazon drivers around the world. And those drivers are going from their house to a warehouse, to your house. The environmental impacts of single day or two-day deliveries are huge.

Canada post, UPS, fedex, etc. run efficient, consolidated, delivery routes, because that’s what makes these companies tick. They can’t afford not to have their trucks loaded, and their routes planned.  So if you order online from a company that uses a shipping service, it’s WAY better for the environment. Yes this means you won’t get your protein powder tonight, but you will still get it, and when you do, you can blend your smoothies thinking about all of the carbon you didn’t emit by getting it through amazon.

So the carbon is a problem for sure.  But what about all of the packaging? Typically prime orders are boxed within a branded box.  Why is it okay to have a box within a box? That doesn’t make any sense and is using at least twice the amount of packing a typical company would.  And those plastic air pillows they use? Really tough to recycle.

The Economy.

Okay so now we know the environment takes a big hit on your ‘get it tonight’ delivery.  But what about the economy?  

I broke down some numbers in my “why black friday sucks” blog post - so if you haven’t read that one, make sure to go give it a read!  I will include the link at the bottom.

The economic impact of keeping your dollars local is huge.  And I totally feel that on a day to day basis. The money spent in my shop pays my team, orders my inventory (and 98% of our suppliers are Canadian businesses), and takes care of my dinner bill at Shokunin - that place is dangerously delicious and dangerously close to my house.  

66 cents on every dollar spent in a local business, stay within that local economy. Two thirds - that’s a pretty huge return, but there’s more. Every dollar spent in a local shop creates an additional 50 cents of business activity in that local economy. This effect is due to the supply chains, the employment bases, and the profits earned by small businesses. Alright that’s a lot of words but what about the numbers.

To recap the math I did in my black friday post: 

Let’s say 50% of Calgarians spend $50 in local businesses in our city this Saturday, here’s the impact broken down: 

  • 668,000 people spend $50 = $33.4 million spent
  • $33.4 million x two thirds = $22.4 million stays within our local community
  • $16.7 million in additional local business activity is generated (50% of the local cash spent)

Isn’t that something?  That’s a lot of cash injected back into our local economy. So the next time you order something online and want it delivered tomorrow, think about the best way to spend that cash.  Order it online from somewhere local, OR order from a smaller business that uses Canada post. Both of these options are easy, still convenient, and will cut your carbon footprint by 35X, and boost up our sad little local economy.

We have chatted about the environmental and economic impacts.  But what about the humanitarian side of things? Ordering Canadian made products means those companies have to adhere to Canadian labour standards, and that’s some important stuff! That sounds like a great topic for another blog post in the future…

Think about the people, think about the planet, and think about the economy.  Little changes, big impact. 


As always, thanks for reading!

- Michelle


Find my ‘why black Friday sucks’ post here 

And feel free to take a read of the full article I referenced here

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