Amazon announced major expansion of free same-day delivery for over 1 million products. Agree or Disagree: this service will add to the pollution of our planet. It will make for more delivery trucks bustling into our neighborhoods, more carbon released.


Here is the gist of Amazon’s new same-day thrust: if you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime service ($99/year) and your order is at least $35 (what Amazon order isn’t?) you get same day delivery on more than 1 million products in 14 metro areas in US (i.e. almost everyone). Shipping is FREE.

Our first reaction is that there really weren’t that many impatient people in the world, but when you offer free impatient person delivery, you create a generation of them.

Do you GRIN (Agree) or GROAN (Disagree) at the following argument:

Amazon’s same day delivery will add to pollution. Reason: since it’s free (for Prime members, which is probably most of the planet), why wouldn’t I go ahead and have someone deliver something same day. It costs me nothing to get immediate gratification on my order of Brillo pads!

This creates extraneous truck traffic and thus pollution.

When something is free (and doesn’t lead to internal hemorrhaging), people choose it. It’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work.

EXAMPLE: Monday, I order ABC from Amazon and get same day delivery; Tuesday, I order LMN from Amazon and get same day delivery; Wednesday, I order XYZ, same day delivery. So that’s so many different truck deliveries.

It could be argued that just by offering free delivery (even within a 2 day time-span which Prime already allowed) invites abuse of shipping efficiency. But at least some time interval has been created for the customer to realize s/he needs a box of Brillo pads in addition to the laser scope already ordered. And thus the first order might be combined with the send order into one efficient UPS delivery to your house.

The danger here is not free shipping – although free shipping does free the customer from any incentive to order in a way that is environmentally responsible. Environmentally responsible is aggregating individual purchases per mile traveled. When it’s all on our dime, we drive to the grocery store and we almost always have a list. That’s because we don’t want to expend time, gas and depreciation on separate trips for a) bacon b) lettuce c) tomato and d) sourdough bread.

But it’s the combination of free shipping with guaranteed delivery within an extremely abbreviated period (like same day) that leads to more trips to your house.

We imagine UPS, Fed Ex and USPS trucks happily chugging down our streets like Thomas the Tank. More likely, our houses are located in a congested area where getting there is environmentally expensive – UPS trucks idling caught in traffic.  Or escaping all that, located in the furthest reaches of a sprawling community.

No wonder Amazon is interested in drones delivering products!!!  Wait till we tell you about the patent they’re seeking for 3D printing of products right at your curb.

Tell us whether you agree (GRIN) or disagree (GROAN). A Facebook Comment would be a good place to register your opinion.