Why You Should Take a Break From Delivery Services at Christmas

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We all appreciate the convenience and reliability of delivery services during the holidays from online marketplaces like Amazon and big delivery chains such as UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service. However, there are some serious environmental consequences that come with such services, especially during the holidays. With increased deliveries during Christmas time comes increased traffic. According to Time, online holiday shopping doubles the average rate of deliveries per person, which contributes to the fact that delivery trucks represent just 7% of total traffic yet are responsible for 28% of our country’s congestion. In addition to traffic, delivery vehicles produce substantial greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.

There are many ways to make Christmas a little greener — in the eco-friendly sense. Here are some reasons why you should consider taking a break from delivery services this holiday season and tips on how to be more environmentally-friendly. 

Gas Consumption

The impact of gas consumption on the environment is considerable, especially when it comes to delivery services. According to Reuters, one delivery company’s vehicles created 14.6 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (a carbon footprint measurement), while moving 5.2 billion packages in 2018. Delivery vehicles are known for poor gas mileage and most trucks run on diesel fuel, which results in larger amounts of air pollution emissions. 

Gas consumption during the Christmas season is particularly troublesome because packages often come from farther away, resulting in a larger carbon footprint. In addition, last-minute gifts are often the norm during the holidays; this leads to an increase in requests for one-day shipping and decreases the likelihood of multiple gifts being packaged and delivered together in one shipment.


Boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and shipping peanuts create a lot of waste. Furthermore, out of all of these packaging items, cardboard is oftentimes the only item that is recyclable. Here are some tips on how to minimize waste this holiday season. 

  • Reduce deliveries: When you do need to order something, try to plan ahead and order everything you need at once in order to reduce the number of smaller orders you place. If you do order something, schedule items to arrive on the same day so that they can be packaged together.

  • Recycle: Put all those cardboard boxes in your recycling bin or reuse them if possible. Sometimes wrappings like air cushions or bubble wrap can be recycled at your local supermarket. 

  • Choose digital: Digital holiday invitations are an easy, zero-waste alternative to paper invitations and they don’t require a delivery service! 

Alternative Options

An obvious alternative option to deliveries is to buy your gifts at the store. However, this still results in gas usage and gift wrapping. Check out these alternatives to reduce your environmental footprint during the holidays: 

  • Gift wrapping alternatives: Skip the paper and choose an alternative green Christmas wrapping. Decorate, color, or paint the box your gift came in or reuse old gift bags. A reusable glass jar is also a great way to share homemade jam, bath salts, or ingredients for your favorite Christmas cookies. 

  • Physical gift alternatives: Christmas ecards and gift cards are easy, cost-efficient, and eco-friendly alternatives to physical gifts. Making someone a nice meal or shoveling their driveway are also thoughtful alternatives. Gifting an experience, such as paying for a museum membership or fun class, is another popular alternative. 
Decorations: In order to avoid ordering decorations online, decorate your house using natural and seasonal products. Decorate with plants and flowers like poinsettias, string together popcorn and cranberry garland, or adorn some pine cones with red and green glitter.

How Delivery Services Could Be More Sustainable in the Future

Delivery services actually have the potential to be more sustainable than traditional Christmas shopping methods in the future. Here are a few steps online businesses can take in the future to reduce their environmental footprint:

  • More in Less: Online businesses should explore how to transport more packages in fewer vehicles, which can reduce gas consumption compared to millions of shoppers making individual trips to the store. 

  • Micro-fulfillment centers: A network of smaller warehouses in locations near customers uses the fulfillment technology from much larger automatic centers, but still results in a fast, local delivery and smaller carbon footprint.

  • Nudge & Incentivize: Online businesses should look for ways to gently push consumers toward more environmentally-friendly choices (like no-rush shipping) and provide incentives or discounts for making these choices.

With just a little effort and imagination, you can reduce the environmental impact of deliveries during the holiday season and care for the earth. You’ll feel great about your contribution towards helping the environment and the earth will thank you too!

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