UKH

Online shopping and the environment.

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 gimmergimmer 04 Feb 2021

If we buy online there are loads of vans going to houses. If instead we go to the shops- the roads and car parks are full- but there are fewer big trucks delivering to the shops instead of all those vans. Which is better for the environment, pollution, emissions etc. Or can't we tell? (Assuming we have a policy choice when it's hopefully no longer a covid decision?)

1
In reply to gimmergimmer:

I'd guess that the range of environmental damage from the two approaches probably overlaps quite substantially depending on the choices of the specific consumer and the businesses they're buying from.

But apparently it's noticeably more environmentally friendly to choose the slower delivery options when you shop online, which I think is worth knowing. I presume it's because it gives the delivery company better options for bundling things efficiently.

In reply to Luke90:

I suspect it's a lot more efficient with the Covid-induced delivery van system, because surely most people are making big orders much less frequently than they would traditionally drive to the supermarket. And of course, one van is delivering to many households in a cleverly economic route.

Post edited at 17:14
 Rob Exile Ward 04 Feb 2021
In reply to gimmergimmer:

The best thing is to buy less, have less stuff.

In reply to gimmergimmer:

> If we buy online there are loads of vans going to houses. If instead we go to the shops- the roads and car parks are full- but there are fewer big trucks delivering to the shops instead of all those vans. Which is better for the environment, pollution, emissions etc. Or can't we tell? (Assuming we have a policy choice when it's hopefully no longer a covid decision?)

Let's say hypothetically we had one company going to each house daily to deliver stuff, we could even call it the Royal Mail, mostly on foot, bicycle or electric van/scooter - that would avoid a lot of trips, wouldn't it?

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I suspect it's a lot more efficient with the Covid-induced delivery van system, because surely most people are making big orders much less frequently than they would traditionally drive to the supermarket. And of course, one van is delivering to many households in a cleverly economic route.

The supermarket vans could do a lot more if the system was redesigned so the crates contained reusable bags designed to fit in them (probably 3 in each crate, I'd say) which would just be left with you, charged onto each order and refunded when returned next time.  Then they wouldn't need to hang around while you stock your cupboards (as some people do, I just chuck it all on the floor).

 WaterMonkey 04 Feb 2021
In reply to gimmergimmer:

Imagine if we didn’t have a postal delivery service and we all had to drive to deliver our own post.

And also don’t forget everything you buy has to still get delivered from the warehouse to the shop for you to buy it. 

 girlymonkey 04 Feb 2021
In reply to gimmergimmer:

I find fewer "green" options for sale in the high street than I do online.

I also suspect there is less waste of stock online. If every M+S, for example, stocks a certain line of jeans, then each shop will carry surplus of every size. So between 10 shops, whatever the recommended surplus is will be multiplied by 10. Online, there will be some surplus made, but probably a lot less as it doesn't need to be available in 10 different places. 

In reply to Neil Williams:

Here they don't hang around if you've confirmed you're going to be in (they have instructions if you're not in), they just ring your doorbell, you give a thumbs up through the window, and they rightly piss off. Leaving it all in very cheap, recyclable plastic bags on your doorstep.

Post edited at 17:30
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Here they don't hang around if you've confirmed you're going to be in (they have instructions if you're not in), they just ring your doorbell, you give a thumbs up through the window, and they rightly piss off. Leaving it all in very cheap, recyclable plastic bags on your doorstep.

Probably for the best not to use single-use bags if they could be replaced with reusable ones, though.

mick taylor 04 Feb 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

> The supermarket vans could do a lot more if the system was redesigned so the crates contained reusable bags designed to fit in them (probably 3 in each crate, I'd say) which would just be left with you, charged onto each order and refunded when returned next time.  Then they wouldn't need to hang around while you stock your cupboards (as some people do, I just chuck it all on the floor).

Morrison’s kind of does this, with normal carriers though which you can give back and get reimbursed. Way ‘slicker ‘ than the other places. And it’s 3 per crate, the crates have notches to keep the bags open for the store staff to load fill easier. You know your stuff !

Post edited at 17:44
 WaterMonkey 04 Feb 2021
In reply to gimmergimmer:

If we all had parcel boxes instead of letter boxes it would be much more efficient due to no re-deliveries. 

In reply to WaterMonkey:

All I can say is that up here in Derbyshire it's all working quite well, in a typical Derbyshire, no-nonsense, hard-working kind of way. (I'm a southerner, btw.)

In reply to mick taylor:

Shall have to give them a go, I've got one locally so I'm sure they'll deliver here.

I tend to find that because my work involves business process stuff I tend to notice when there could be improvements.

mick taylor 04 Feb 2021
In reply to WaterMonkey:

> If we all had parcel boxes instead of letter boxes it would be much more efficient due to no re-deliveries. 

mick taylor 04 Feb 2021
In reply to WaterMonkey:

> If we all had parcel boxes instead of letter boxes it would be much more efficient due to no re-deliveries. 

I have a parcel box. Its called the door

 artif 04 Feb 2021
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> The best thing is to buy less, have less stuff.

While I agree with this, unfortunately sh1t like this is happening

https://www.voanews.com/science-health/study-chinas-new-coal-power-plant-capacity-2020-more-3-times-rest-worlds?amp

In reply to Neil Williams:

We have had supermarket deliveries for about 15 years now, stopped during covid but will go back when the time is right. 

Pre covid we always got a months worth of shopping at a time and to save the driver messing around we came up with a plan. 

He lost a couple of crates on each delivery and I ended up with 10 spare crates in the garage. 

The delivery guy leaves the full crates and takes back the empties. 

We empty them and put the shopping away and put the crates in the garage for next month. 

In reply to gimmergimmer:

Presumably it depends where you live relative to the shops. If the shopping requires a speciaI journey then I assume it is environmentally more friendly to get it online. I can't imagine being organised enough to do my food shopping online, but my supermarkets are on the way to work or the wall, so I can just drop in, wander round at random and get stuff - food, clothes and other bits and pieces. I probably get about 90% of the rest of my shopping online because, apart from the odd local thing, it would involve a 40 or 50mile round trip to get it. 

In reply to gimmergimmer:

Better still have parcel collection points next to supermarkets, they accept all couriers, you nominate as you purchase and simply collect when you next food shop. Minimum van traffic, no extra individual journeys and economy of scale. 

mick taylor 04 Feb 2021
In reply to summo:

I’ve got the best idea. We should all live in the supermarket than zero mileage.   
 

Edit: better still, because there would be less room in the supermarket they could use all them empty houses to store food etc. It’s a win win. 
 

Edit edit: and they could use the redundant vans to take people from their new supermarket homes back to the re-purposed homes to do their shopping. It’s a win win win win !

Post edited at 21:27
 veteye 04 Feb 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

I agree with Rob Exile, that it is greener to not buy at all: And I think that just browsing online, not intending to buy, probably results in too many unnecessary purchases.

I am guilty, as I am a bibliophile, and have too many books. I should make more use of a library. If we all did, then there would be more inclination for government to back them more. (The only library that I use occasionally, is that of the Royal Society of Medicine's, and sometimes send for scientific papers from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons).

 girlymonkey 04 Feb 2021
In reply to veteye:

> I agree with Rob Exile, that it is greener to not buy at all: And I think that just browsing online, not intending to buy, probably results in too many unnecessary purchases.

Interesting, I would say it's the opposite for me. I do sometimes buy things earlier than I need to save on postage, but my online browsing is always to find the exact thing I want, second hand if possible. There's no way I would get second hand trail shoes in the high street, but I get them all the time on eBay and Facebook! 

In reply to Dax H:

I've had them agree to leave crates when getting a very large delivery to a Scout camp but never to home.  I guess it depends on the driver.

 timjones 05 Feb 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

If your work involves business process stuff I'm slightly concerned that you are suggesting using bags inside crates

Why not just use the crates, charge a deposit and leave them for collection at the next delivery?

 timjones 05 Feb 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

Do those " surplus" jeans get wasted or are they discounted and sold?

The bigger problem is the regular discontinuation of the lines and styles that I know fit which means that online shopping generates extra road traffic returning clothes that don't fit.

In reply to timjones:

> Why not just use the crates, charge a deposit and leave them for collection at the next delivery?

Because a deposit that is enough to cover the cost of the crates would be off-putting, whereas if it was just £1 a pop people would nick them for other purposes as £1 would be a cheap price for one of those crates.  Also a full crate is quite heavy.

TBH I think the crates are a bit of a flaw in the system.  Safeway years ago did a fledgeling "self scan" system for which they used "Greenboxes" which were purchased by the shopper (so could work on the same basis) but were smaller than crates so easier to carry.  Those would work better and probably be cheaper.

https://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NzY4WDEwMjQ=/z/Dy4AAOSwcLxYJw7a/$_86.JPG is a picture of them.

FWIW the crates seem to cost about £6 a pop though I'd imagine the supermarket gets them cheaper, so maybe that would be viable.  Though the "greenboxes" would be easier to store if you live in a flat or very small house, and easy to carry in from the front door.


https://www.toteshop.co.uk/eco-crates-containers.html?URLName=eco-crates-containers&gclid=CjwKCAiA9vOABhBfEiwATCi7GPI05G9o-H_v29rjP1VaWJNHY83KISyLB4HLCerKJthjWIJ3tPJ6wRoCgLcQAvD_BwE

Post edited at 10:30
 didntcomelast 05 Feb 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

We use crates which have hangers on the sides for three carrier bags. It allows the pickers to pack the crates quickly and we, the delivery drivers can easily unhook the bags and leave the customers shopping on the doorstep if for example they are Covid+. It is a very simple and effective system with one flaw. The plastic bags are the flimsy kind that tend to get binned once used.  I have had customers say they reuse them but we as a store don’t take them back to reuse as they lose quite a bit of strength and also in the current situation are a Covid risk, though probably slight.

 timjones 05 Feb 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Because a deposit that is enough to cover the cost of the crates would be off-putting, whereas if it was just £1 a pop people would nick them for other purposes as £1 would be a cheap price for one of those crates.  Also a full crate is quite heavy.

> TBH I think the crates are a bit of a flaw in the system.  Safeway years ago did a fledgeling "self scan" system for which they used "Greenboxes" which were purchased by the shopper (so could work on the same basis) but were smaller than crates so easier to carry.  Those would work better and probably be cheaper.

> FWIW the crates seem to cost about £6 a pop though I'd imagine the supermarket gets them cheaper, so maybe that would be viable.  Though the "greenboxes" would be easier to store if you live in a flat or very small house, and easy to carry in from the front door.

If you fill a crate with tins it is likely to be heavy, if you fill it with bread it will be light. If you mix and match you can surely pack to a weight.  Too many small bags or bags are a right royal pain in the arse.

I wouldn't see deposits as a major issue, as long as you exchange crates ta each delivery it is just a single upfront payment.

Sadly it is not a problem that I am likely to face in the near future as no supermarket that I am prepared to shop with delivers in our neck of the woods 

 

In reply to timjones:

> If you fill a crate with tins it is likely to be heavy, if you fill it with bread it will be light. If you mix and match you can surely pack to a weight. 

True, but then you typically don't get mixed items in crates because of how the shopping process works most efficiently.

 fred99 05 Feb 2021
In reply to gimmergimmer:

What worries me regarding the environment with van delivery is the incredible amount of packaging that is used for (non-supermarket) goods. The amount of cardboard for just one book is incredible.


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