It’s not your fault: Your choices matter, but slowing climate change is not in your hands. Companies want you to buy without thinking about your wallet, your carbon footprint, or anything else.
Something hopeful: A shopping website in Mexico found that the vast majority of people were willing to wait for their order if they were told it would save a certain number of trees.
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Here’s a North Star to guide you to green shopping: A choice that involves driving the fewest miles to your door is generally better for the environment. That can be shopping online, in a store – or even better, not buying anything at all.
Finding out is difficult and depends on your personal circumstances.
When a courier truck delivers packages to a group of people on your street in a single trip, it can produce fewer climate-warming emissions than all those neighbors driving back and forth to faraway shops, according to Anne Goodchild, a University of Washington professor who examined the climate emissions from transport.
But it’s not that easy.
Goodchild told me that if you buy some of the items on your weekly shopping list online and still drive to the supermarket for the rest, those two shopping moments could create more climate-damaging emissions than a single delivery or trip. Ordering a new blender for delivery instead of buying it on the commute home from work could be worse for the environment.
Other factors such as the type of car you drive, where your products come from and whether your neighborhood is spacious or has many houses close together also affect the climate emissions generated. I know that feels like tiring. I don’t blame you if you just want to buy dog food and don’t want to think so much.
But you don’t have to be perfect or break your personal carbon footprint to shop online while being a little kinder to the planet. Here’s what you can do:
Slower delivery is good. Buying fewer things is even better.
Websites often won’t give you an option, but if you do, Goodchild advised opting for delivery times that take several days instead of a day or two. Amazon started the go-go need for speed to your doorstep, and many other sites have followed.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)
Fast shipping at no extra cost is what you expect now, but it comes at a price. Slower delivery times are allowing courier companies to bundle orders, ship things by truck instead of air, and send vans full of packages down routes that use less fuel. That’s more sustainable.
If you’re thinking, hahahahahaha, everyone wants things NOW… When a Mexican retailer showed shoppers a message about how many trees their choice could save, 90 percent of people said they were willing to wait about five days, researchers at the MIT explained. It was a small experiment, but one that showed that people might be anxious to protect the planet when it feels manageable.
Companies often choose the fastest delivery for you, but sometimes you can switch to a slower delivery when you check out.
Here are two examples from earlier this week at Amazon and Best Buy. Companies have automatically selected the fastest delivery window, but you can click the option to wait a little longer instead.
Goodchild’s second recommendation is hard medicine: The greenest shopping decision is to buy nothing at all. You don’t have to give up all of your possessions or anything like that. It’s about being more thoughtful and asking: do I need this?
One suggestion I heard was to wait 24 hours before clicking buy. Maybe that gizmo you added to your virtual shopping cart while you were bored on Thanksgiving doesn’t seem so exciting if you wait until today to check out.
Businesses (and your life) work against you.
Plain text: Our way of life is not conducive to slowing down climate change. You may want or need to travel long distances for work, school or life. Electric cars are expensive to buy. we to need Things, and buying things as conveniently as possible – that’s what we want, of course.
Online shopping can also undermine your best intentions for your budget and the planet. It’s so easy to buy and return that it’s hard to pay attention to what or how you’re buying. And it’s better for online stores if you turn off your brain.
We can adapt. And you are part of the picture, but the responsibility for change does not lie solely with you. Real solutions require global change and the recognition that we must work together.
“We know we have a big problem with that [carbon dioxide] Production that requires all our efforts to manage. It will require personal responsibility, corporate responsibility and public policy,” Goodchild said. “And it will still be difficult.”
And you can’t miss this: Geoffrey A. Fowler shows you how ads have taken over Amazon and made shopping worse.
No, Twitter is not dying. (Still.)
Yes, I see you asking this question. I get it! Here are a few things you might want to know:
Elon Musk ownership drama is enticing: Musk recently said that Twitter usage reached record highs, perhaps in part from people attracted to Twitter to Twitter’s chaos. (It’s difficult to verify Musk’s claims about Twitter usage.)
A majority of Twitter employees were kicked out or fired in the last weeks. Won’t Twitter break?
Great websites tend to be resilient—until they aren’t anymore. Sources told the post that complex systems like Twitter’s can withstand small bugs without users necessarily noticing. Malfunctions or temporary failures are not necessarily signs of doom. If technical errors and changes accumulate over time and there are not enough people to work on them, a sustained crash is possible.
But look at that terrible tweet! Some people seemed emboldened to circulate toxic posts on Twitter following Musk’s acquisition, and some users and advertisers have at least temporarily backed out. But Musk’s ownership is stimulating to others, and it may take a long time to understand the impact on Twitter’s user base and revenue.
Ugly words, botched policies, and stubborn features were also part of Twitter before Musk was boss. It’s hard to tell if something you find disgusting or stupid on Twitter is related to Musk’s acquisition, or if Twitter is just Twitter.
If you’re worried about Twitter, where else can you go? Nothing is really a perfect substitute. My colleague Heather Kelly has written about the pros and cons of alternatives to Twitter and what you should do if you have a Twitter account.
If you’ve heard of newer Twitter-like apps like Hive, Mastodon, and Post.News, they’re probably not ready for most people. We here at The Post (um, that’s The Washington Post) will continue to test them for you.
Follow the money. Twitter borrowed $13 billion for Musk’s acquisition of the company. And the company owes about $1 billion or more a year just in interest on that debt. Musk also initially invested $25 billion of his own money to buy Twitter, although it’s possible he brought in other investors to help spread the load.
The bottom line: Twitter and Musk need a lot more money, a lot less spending, or both. What we’re seeing from Musk and the company is a mad attempt to make the math of Twitter work.
Help us to help you. What do you want to know about Twitter? Feeling overwhelmed by So. Many. Reviews. on travel sites? Ask us your questions about the technology in your life, or email us yo[email protected]. We’re all in the same boat.
If you live in the United States and love soccer but don’t have a fancy cable TV or streaming package, my colleague Tatum Hunter found a cheap World Cup TV tip:
Telemundo, the Spanish-language TV channel, shows World Cup matches live on the Peacock streaming service. Earlier this week it was free to watch games, but now you have to opt for a Peacock subscription. (Peacock offers a subscription for 99 cents a month for a year, with some limitations.)
You can also watch Telemundo’s World Cup games for free in many parts of the United States real tv, if you do You may need an antenna.
If my boss asks, I streamed a match while writing this – FOR JOURNALISM.
Brag about YOUR tiny win! tell us about an app, gadget, or tech trick that made your day a little bit better. We might feature your advice in a future issue of The Tech Friend.