Does shopping online help lower carbon emissions? Researchers say it depends

The research focused in detail on the U.K. but considered key patterns in other countries. Americans drive to the store 95 per cent of the time, compared with 80 per cent in the U.K., 44 per cent in the Netherlands, and eight per cent in China. Shopping emissions also vary based on other decisions under the consumer’s control, such as choosing slower delivery and bundling items from the same seller.

“What they found was, appropriately, it depends,” says Costa Samaras, who researches energy and climate change at Carnegie Mellon University and is familiar with the study. “If you’re going to drive to the store to get something, combine that trip with other errands,” he adds. “Better yet, take your bike.”