I've noticed when ordering from Diapers.com (who is currently having a sale on their green products!) that they offer a green shipping method. So it begs the question, what is that? I did a bit of research and here's what I discovered.
One of the best ways to help the environment stay “green” and become “greener” is to reduce our carbon footprint. As many families know, it is now possible to buy green foods, green cleaning supplies, and even green vehicles. Green shipping, however, is not something we hear much about.
There are several ways in which you can choose greener shipping options. First of all, you can try to reuse packing material whenever possible. If you need to send a package and do not have packing material that you can recycle, try to buy materials made from recycled products. Consider popping popcorn and using it in place of packing peanuts or newspaper wads. In addition, when you need to send a gift that you've ordered online, choose to have the gift wrapped and sent directly to the recipient rather than having it shipped to you first. It is much better for the environment if the package is shipped only once. Finally, you should choose ground shipping whenever possible. Sending packages via an aircraft is harder on the environment than sending them via ground shipping.
After taking all the measures you can to lessen the environmental impact of shipping, you should consider which carrier you should use. The two major shipping contenders in the United States are UPS and FedEx. So which one is greener? Well, according to UPS, its services are greener than those of FedEx. UPS claims that it operates more alternative fuel vehicles than does FedEx. UPS also states that its airline fleet is at least 30% more efficient than that of FedEx. In addition, UPS has set company goals to decrease its carbon footprint including emissions reduction and community outreach.
On the other hand, FedEx claims that its services are greener. In fact, in April 2010, FedEx launched a new program entitled EarthSmart, which was designed to minimize the company's impact on the environment. Since then, FedEx has been working to increase vehicle efficiency, decrease aircraft emissions, and add to its ability to produce and utilize solar energy. EarthSmart can be divided into three separate focus areas: workplace culture, business solutions, and community outreach.
It is not yet known for sure which of these two companies is the greenest. However, it is inspiring to know that both FedEx and UPS are setting goals for reducing their impact on the environment. Each company is attempting to improve the efficiency of their vehicles and aircrafts. They are also both attempting to utilize more alternative sources of fuel and energy.
It should also be noted that many of the smaller shipping entities, including DHL, are implementing greener shipping methods as well. If you choose to use one of these companies instead, simply search its website for information on the environmental impact of the company's practices. Choosing to work only with companies that care about the environment will entice other companies to follow suit.