green ecommerceShop online and help end global warming? In this era of acute environmental awareness, that could be a powerful value proposition for etailers. Particularly with data to back up the claim.

Buy that gizmo online rather than drive to the all and you'll burn 35 percent less energy, finds a just-released Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute study.

Researchers used data provided by and the Internet Superstore, along with information from earlier research to compare the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from with delivering a flash drive from manufacturer to a home via the traditional retail and's e-commerce channel.  

The worst culprits in terms of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in that transaction were getting the customer to and from the physical store,  packaging, and last-mile delivery on the ecommerce side of the equation. The biggest offender? Customer transport, which accounted for 65 percent of carbon emissions in the traditional transaction.

Betcha is going to jump on this with a heavier marketing pitch. The company already displays "Go green with" on its home page, as well as listing electronics products certified as environmentally friendly.

"Consumers are looking for ways to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, whether that be recycling at home, reducing paper and packaging consumption or purchasing products that have less impact on our natural resources," said Neel Grover,'s CEO and president. "This study solidifies that online shopping is another avenue they can embrace to help lower their carbon footprint and energy consumption."

No reason why be alone in driving home this impactful message.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 5 March, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

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Comments (1)


Rachel Burkot

Interesting article. I've never thought about this, but it's so true - buying online helps to save the environment. From saving gas to drive to the store, paper on receipts, and plastic on bags, online shopping is great for the environment. Now the tricky part: How can ecommerce vendors use this to target buyers? Would it be smart or not?

over 9 years ago

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