The hidden cost of online shopping — and what you can do about it

Online shopping

This holiday season, many shoppers will choose the online option. © Animated Heaven/Flickr Creative Commons)

Holiday season is online shopping season. And with online sales expected to surpass US$ 100 billion this year, that equates to a lot of fast and free shipping.

But there is a hidden cost to all this shipping: its carbon footprint.

In the newest installment of the Climate Lab video series — produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox Media — Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan takes you inside the world of online shipping and its impacts on the planet.

Spoiler alert: You DON’T have to stop shopping online.

The video debuts today on Vox; watch below or on

It might just change the way you shop online.

Bruno Vander Velde is CI’s editorial director. 

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  1. Rosalie says

    Great little video, thank you.

    I can’t understand why the 2 day option is free, if it requires more trucks and separate deliveries in transport. My instinct says that the Green option should be the cheapest. Could someone please explain this to me?

  2. Joyce Lewis says

    I live on the end of an island. I do probably 1/2 my shopping on-line. I only go off island once a week & try to do all my shopping in 1 day. That may include up to 9 stops altogether. I believe my carbon footprint is offset using on-line shopping by not having t drive store-to-store for certain items. I NEVER use 2-day shipping as I plan my purchases ahead of use & can wait for standard shipping.

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