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  • When it comes to buying stuff, I've often wondered how did I live without online shopping?

  • I mean literally today anything I want is available to me 24/7.

  • I can buy anything anytime.

  • In fact 79% of Americans shop online.

  • This happens when they're laying in bed, while they're out with friends having a drink.

  • It turns out actually one in five of us shop online while we're using the bathroom.

  • All this stuff we're buying sort of magically appears on our doorstep.

  • But what effect does all this shopping have on the planet?

  • Delivery services ship a lot more packages now because of online shopping.

  • Since 2009 US Postal Service deliveries increased by 65%.

  • And during the holidays, UPS deliveries have increased by 260 million packages since 2010.

  • Now for the most part, if you compare online shopping with driving to the store, online shopping has a smaller carbon footprint.

  • But there's a catch.

  • It's only better for the environment if you don't get rushed delivery.

  • Most of us, including me, are choosing faster delivery like two day shipping because most of the time it's free.

  • Why wouldn't we want it right away?

  • But it isn't just a time difference, it's an environmental difference.

  • All these faster deliveries means way more trucks on the road and that's causing more greenhouse gases.

  • And that means more global warming.

  • When we choose two-day shipping, deliveries often come in multiple packages.

  • Let's say I buy some dish soap and a pair of socks.

  • The shipping warehouse near me might be out of dish soap, so they fly some in from another state.

  • Meanwhile, those socks, they're getting sent to me on a separate truck.

  • Also, the company is trying to get it to me quickly, so trucks are often sent out only half full

  • If there was more flexibility in timing, they could fill them up all the way.

  • If you know you have five-day delivery window, you can wait from all the products to come in from different sources, consolidate the shipment, and send it.

  • And now you can wait for many customers' orders to come in and consolidate that into, let's say, a full truckload.

  • This is Miguel Jaller.

  • He studies sustainable transportation at the University of California, Davis.

  • By picking the longer delivery window, I'm giving the company more time to find the most efficient way to get a product to me.

  • Another problem is with returns.

  • So one of the things that companies made is offering this reliable and fast and almost free return option.

  • So now as a customer, I can actually try the product, even if I don't have any store to go to,

  • because if I don't like it or it doesn't fit, I can actually return it at no cost.

  • So like with buying clothes, if I shop online and pick the 'try before you buy' option,

  • it would be the same as saying a delivery truck is driving back and forth just to find me the right stuff.

  • So what are companies trying to do?

  • When you think of the future of online shipping, you might imagine drones and driverless cars.

  • But today's solutions are more about keeping traffic moving along, like with wifi traffic lights

  • that let truckers know ahead of time when the light will turn red.

  • This cuts down on idling at the light and wasting fuel.

  • We're now starting to transmit the timing of those traffic lights,

  • in anticipation for that, they might want to speed up a little bit or slow down or do these certain little velocity changes

  • so that they increase their chances of getting through that light.

  • This is Matt Barth at the University of California, Riverside.

  • He's looking at ways that trucks can reduce their transit footprint.

  • You can essentially smooth out your patterns of travel.

  • And when you smooth out your travel patterns, you get those fuel-economy benefits.

  • Cities like San Jose and Las Vegas are already testing out this traffic light technology.

  • You can save 15 to 20 percent fuel just by doing those type of activities.

  • And on the highway, trucks are actually now starting to talk to each other -- it's called truck platooning.

  • You can think of it like cruise control except its transmitting the truck's speed to the other vehicles following behind.

  • This lets all the trucks drive in unison at the same speed close behind each other.

  • What they're doing is trying to reduce the drag.

  • The narrow gaps they create between each other shields the trucks that are following from wind resistance.

  • And so there's been a number of experiments worldwide that have shown, you know,

  • you can get 10 to 15, 20 percent energy savings, fuel savings by doing that type of platooning.

  • Now delivery companies have been tackling fuel use and emissions for decades.

  • Take UPS.

  • Since the 1970s they've encouraged drivers to eliminate left hand turns, reducing their emissions by 100,000 metric tons.

  • That's like taking 21,000 cars off the road.

  • So there are ways companies can shrink their carbon footprint, but what if they were better about changing customer behavior

  • like getting all of us to be conscious about how we shop online?

  • I've always picked that 2 day option because to be honest never really thought about it,

  • but what if companies offered a green option?

  • So if you just check a box they would just ship stuff to you in the most energy efficient way possible.

  • Sure, maybe it takes a little longer, but that's something I'd actually be willing to do.

  • I mean every now and again, I agree,I might need something right away.

  • But I probably don't need overnight delivery of socks to my front door.

  • You probably do a lot of your online shopping with your smartphone.

  • Well watch our other episodes to see what kind of impact these devices have on our planet.

When it comes to buying stuff, I've often wondered how did I live without online shopping?


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B1 中級

2日分の送料無料の環境コスト (The environmental cost of free two-day shipping)

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    QWWW に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日