British researchers have reached a startling conclusion. Unless online shoppers order 25 items at a time, they’re polluting more than if they shopped at their local mall. And telecommuting was actually found to increase home energy use by 30 percent, which also increases emissions of environmentally dangerous gases.
According to the study, an environmental benefit only occurs “if online shopping replaces 3.5 traditional shopping trips, or if 25 orders are delivered at the same time, or, if the distance traveled to where the purchase is made is more than 50 kilometers. Shopping online does not offer net environmental benefits unless these criteria are met.”
The study was conducted by Newcastle University’s Institution of Engineering and Technology, which blames the environmental impact of transportation, warning that “policy makers must do their homework to ensure that rebound effects do not negate the positive benefits of their policy initiatives…” But one technology site notes the study was conducted in Britain, which could have an impact on its conclusions. While some countries “have excellent mass transit systems that are easy to use and cover extensive areas making it a better choice for travel than automobiles… In yet other spread out rural areas cars are the only way to travel.”