Could Santa improve on the sustainability of his logistics model?
The popularity of online shopping has negative implications for the environment due to the large number of journeys made by fossil-fuel powered delivery vehicles. These vans and cars produce greenhouse gas emissions and particulates, and add to traffic congestion. The greatest environmental impact is from “last mile” deliveries, in which packaged goods are taken from a local depot to the customer’s home. Online retailers and couriers have tried to address this by finding alternative ways of covering the last mile.
Santa, of course, is not dependent on fossil fuels, though the methane emissions from his nine reindeer must be included in his carbon footprint. His strategy for deliveries, however, falls short of current best practice and should not be emulated. A recent Swedish study recommended that, in order to eliminate last mile emissions, the customers should travel on foot to a local pick-up point. This approach is already used by couriers who leave goods for collection at garages, convenience stores, etc, and by Amazon with its purpose-built lockers at accessible locations, such as railway stations. A brisk stroll through the frosty midnight air to the nearest garage could perhaps become a new Christmas Eve tradition and would eliminate the need for single-use stockings.
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