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Opening Arguments


Today's "well, duh" entry:

Good news for people thinking about ordering groceries online from stores like Safeway and getting them delivered to their doorsteps. A new study from the University of Washington finds that grocery delivery can be greener than driving from home to the supermarket and back.

How can that be? The basic intuition here is that a truck or van packed with groceries delivering to eight different houses can, in theory, use a lot less fuel than eight different cars all driving from home to the store and back again.

[. . .]

So what engineers Erica Wygonik and Anne Goodchild did in their paper (pdf) was to take a look at the actual stores and homes around Seattle and simulate thousands of deliveries and grocery runs around the city. They then analyzed a random sample of those runs.

They found that delivery trucks bringing groceries to people’s doorsteps emitted between 20 to 75 percent less carbon dioxide per customer, on average, than having all those people drive their cars from home to the store and back again.

Wow! A truck delivering groceries to eight places pollutes less than cars from all eight places going back and forth would! Whoda thunk! Can we start reserving "it ain't rocket science" for alll these lame studies of the obvious?

Online shopping has changed my life as much as it has everybody else's, but I haven't done groceries yet. I did most of the grocery shpping even when I was married, and I still enjoy going to the supermarket. My sister, though, has always hated it, and she uses a company called Peapod that operates in Indianapolis, among other places. She gets most of her groceries delivered to her front door and says she now couldn't live without the service.