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How to shop online and be kinder to the planet

Remark

Do one thing: Choose a slower delivery option if possible.

Don’t be scared of: All that cardboard and packaging waste isn’t good for the environment, but it’s not the worst either.

Crazy about: Transport is the largest source of emissions warming the planet. The last miles for packages to your door (or your car to a store) are a biggie.

It’s not your fault: Your choices matter, but slowing down climate change is not up to you. 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 on planet-conscious shopping: a choice that involves the fewest miles driven to your door is generally better for the environment. That could be online or in a store — or better yet, buying nothing at all.

Figuring that out is difficult and depends on your personal circumstances.

If one courier van delivers packages to a bunch of people on your street in a single trip, it could cause fewer global warming emissions than all those neighbors driving back and forth to stores far away, according to Anne Goodchild, a University of Washington professor who studies climate emissions. studying transportation.

But it’s not that simple.

Goodchild told me that if you buy some of the items on your weekly grocery list online and drive to the grocery store for the rest, those two shopping trips could cause more climate-damaging emissions than a single delivery or trip. If you ordered a new blender for delivery instead of buying one on your way home from work, it 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 dispersed or has many houses close together, also affect the climate emissions produced. I know this feels exhausting. I don’t blame you if you just want to buy dog ​​food and don’t think so hard.

But you don’t have to be perfect or limit 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 less stuff is even better.

Websites often don’t give you the option, but when they do, Goodchild advised opting for delivery times that take several days instead of one or two. Amazon started the go-go need for speed at your door, and many other websites have followed suit.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Fast shipping at no extra cost is now what you expect, but it comes with a cost. Slower delivery times allow delivery drivers to bundle orders together, ship items by truck instead of air, and send vans full of packages on routes that use less gas. That is more sustainable.

If you think, hahahahahaha, everyone wants things NOW 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 MIT explained. It was a small experiment, but one that showed that people are eager to protect the planet if it seems manageable.

Companies often choose the fastest delivery for you, but sometimes you can switch to a slower delivery during checkout.

Here are two examples from earlier this week on Amazon and Best Buy. The companies automatically chose the fastest delivery window, but you can click the option to wait a little longer instead.

Goodchild’s second recommendation is hard medicine: The most environmentally friendly shopping choice is to buy nothing at all. You don’t have to give up all your possessions or anything. 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 put in your virtual shopping cart while bored on Thanksgiving won’t seem as exciting if you waited until today to check it out.

Businesses (and your life) are working against you.

Frankly, the way we live is not conducive to slowing down climate change. Maybe you want or need to drive long distances for work, school or your life. Electric cars are expensive to purchase. We need stuff, and buying things in the most convenient way we can – of course we want to.

Shopping online 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 be aware of what or how you’re buying. And for webshops it is better 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 need to work together.

“We know we have a big problem with it [carbon dioxide] production that will take all our efforts to address. It will take personal responsibility, corporate responsibility, public policy,” Goodchild said. “And it remains difficult.”

And don’t miss this: Geoffrey A. Fowler shows you how ads have taken over Amazon and made shopping worse.

No, Twitter is not dying. (Yet.)

Yes, I see you are asking this question. I get it! Here are a few things you may want to know:

The drama of Elon Musk’s ownership is enticing: Musk recently said that use of Twitter reached record levels, perhaps in part from people drawn to Twitter to get involved in Twitter’s chaos. (It’s hard to verify Musk’s claims about Twitter usage.)

A majority of Twitter’s staff were sent away or stopped the past weeks. Will Twitter not break?

Big internet sites tend to be resilient – until they aren’t. Sources told The Post that complex systems like Twitter’s can withstand little things going wrong without users necessarily noticing. Glitches or temporary outages are not necessarily signs of doom. If technical errors and changes pile up over time and there aren’t enough people to work on them, a permanent crash is possible.

But look at that awful tweet! Some people seemed emboldened to post toxic messages on Twitter after Musk took over, and some users and advertisers backed off, at least temporarily. But Musk’s ownership energizes others, and the impact on Twitter’s user numbers and revenue may take a long time to understand.

Ugly words, failed policies and balky features were also regulars on Twitter before Musk was in charge. It’s hard to know if something you think is mean or stupid on Twitter is related to the Musk 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’d like to do if you have a Twitter account.

If you’ve heard about newer Twitter-like apps like Hive, Mastodon, and Post.News, they’re probably not ready for most people at this point. We here at The Post (er, 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 on the interest on that debt. To buy Twitter, Musk also put in what was initially $25 billion of his own money, though it’s possible he brought in more investors to spread the burden.

The bottom line is: Twitter and Musk need a lot more money, much lower costs, or both. What we’re seeing from Musk and company is a mad pursuit to make Twitter’s math work.

Help us help you. What do you want to know about Twitter? Do you feel overwhelmed by So. A lot. Reviews. on travel websites? Ask us your questions about technology in your life, or email us yourhelpdesk@washpost.com. We’re all in the same boat.

If you’re in the States and love football/soccer but don’t have a fancy cable TV or streaming package, my colleague Tatum Hunter has listed a cheap World Cup viewing tip:

Telemundo, the Spanish-language TV channel, shows live World Cup matches on streaming service Peacock. Earlier this week it was free to watch matches, but now you have to pay for a Peacock subscription. (Peacock has been offering a subscription for 99 cents a month for a year, with some restrictions.)

In many parts of the United States, you can also watch Telemundo’s World Cup matches for free real television, if you do that. You may need an antenna.

If my boss asks, I was streaming a game while writing this – FOR JOURNALISTICS.

Brag about YOUR one small victory! Tell us about an app, gadget, or tech trick that made your day a little better. We may include your advice in a future edition of The Tech Friend.

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