Climate Conversations, Bonus Episode: The Environmental Impact of Using Amazon

Content Tabs


In this bonus episode of Climate Conversations, the team discusses the environmental impact of using Amazon versus physical stores.

If you have a moment, please rate and subscribe to Climate Conversations on iTunes!


Sarah Lipuma's picture

My thoughts on the question

My thoughts on the question posed are mostly from the point of view of the individual, and not a systems view.

Because, to change systems, it would not matter if you ask your audience, unless they're an audience of policy-makers, no? Anyway:

  • In most towns, I find that there is usually a second-hand store where you can buy something like a coffee maker or blender or clothes. My mother calls this category of home items "Early American Other-People's-Junk." Perhaps more beneficial (to reduction in the waste stream) than buying local, buying second-hand is a form of reusing. 
  • For your vegetables, I would suggest a CSA share. Extremely fresh, local, seasonal, usually organic or organically-grown. And you're helping local farmers buy directly paying them in the beginning of the year to support their farm, and not a middle-man. CSAs are spreading out to more suburban/rural areas. This website keeps an updated list of CSAs and farmers markets across America:
  • For your two guinea pigs, Rajesh, I suggest Petco repeat delivery, just so you don't have to think about it anymore, haha. I would think that unless your town actually has a local pet store (or other specialty store), there is no use in fretting about local vs. big-box or online. You basically already have no choice. 
Curt Newton's picture

Thanks Sarah for your good

Thanks Sarah for your good suggestions!

Here in the Boston area, an interesting variation on the CSA and farmers market model is the Vermont-based Farmers to You. Order online and create a custom weekly "CSA box" for local pickup. I'm curious if other regions are seeing this model crop up (hah hah pun intended).

On reuse: a couple months back, Yale Climate Connections posted an interesting article "CO2 reductions by re-using others' 'stuff'." It looks in detail at a case study on demolition vs. aggressive recycling of an abandoned house in Vermont, and concludes:

"The approach evolving over recent decades focuses not only on energy spent in the use of products but also on the energy embodied in their manufacture and shipping. It attributes a much greater share of total energy consumption – in the range of 50-80 percent – to decisions about what individuals in the U.S. own. And it highlights how and how often we replace our possessions – including our houses. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that construction and upkeep of buildings produce one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. The walls and roofs that shelter us turn out to be our biggest aggregate contribution to global warming."

I do love the healthy furniture trade on Craigslist, not to mention our local Boston Building Resources social enterprise.

Rick Shankman's picture

Don't pay to join the NRA

Don't pay to join the NRA Rajesh.

 Focus your attention and dollars on the important relief efforts in Houston... The Texas Guinea Pig Rescue

From a story in The Texas Tribune...

"With emergency resources strapped, social media became a channel where pleas for rescue were issued for those trapped by flood waters that are expected to keep rising. The posts gave glimpses of the unfolding crisis and included exact addresses, names and pictures of southeast Texas’ stranded residents. 

One woman asked for help for a 70-year-old man trapped in a one-story house without an attic on S. Braeswood Boulevard in Houston. Another asked for help for a couple and their two cats in Dickinson, Texas.

“Please help if you can or get this information to authorities,” claimed a post from twitter user Alicia Stepp. “The entire street of Colony Creek Drive needs rescue.” 

Yet another asked for help for 10 people, 3 dogs and two cats stuck on a roof in Dickinson. One post about a Houston family, which included a sick child, came with a picture of the people standing on their rain-soaked roof."

Luckily, no guinea pigs were involved.

Rick Shankman's picture

Good morning guys.

Good morning guys.

I know it's off-topic (Amazon Prime shopping experiences), but might I suggest a timely "Climate Conversations Bonus Episode" this week on the environmental devastation in Houston related to the extensive fossil fuel industry there and the aftermath of (global warming-enhanced) Hurricane Harvey?

See... As Catastrophic Flooding Hits Houston, Fears Grow of Pollution from Oil Refineries & Superfund Sites

p.s. On the morality side, the City of Houston just tweeted that it will be asking for immigration documents at area storm shelters.