Shipping with a conscience: The path to sustainable e-commerce

Shipping plays a major role in the e-commerce supply chain, and the current consumer-driven push for fast delivery of online purchases spells disaster for the environment. How can consumers become more aware of the impact of their shopping?

Todays consumer is becoming increasingly eco-conscious when choosing what to buy and what not to buy. Few consumers, however, are aware of the environmental footprint of how they buy. Shipping plays a major role in the e-commerce supply chain, so when purchasing something online, consumers are mostly unknowingly contributing to the emissions released by ships into the marine environment. A combination of consumer awareness and lower-emissions shipping solutions are needed to reduce the overall impact of e-commerce on greenhouse gas emissions.

The most impactful and immediate way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from online shopping is for us all to do less of it, explains Diane Gilpin, founder and CEO of Smart Green Shipping, a collaborative industry initiative focused on developing technically, commercially, and environmentally superior systems solutions for shipping. Ultimately consumers drive markets. If we, as consumers, stop buying stuff then the shipping element of the supply chain has to respond by reducing capacity and that cuts emissions. Simultaneously that consumer shift encourages the shipping sector to be much more responsive to explore the myriad of new emission-reduction solutions being offered to the sector.

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