Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gas used in delivery

So, we occasionally get people who say they don't think a delivery service is very environmentally friendly. Our trucks driving around all day they think is very polluting.

These people have just not thought all the way through the comparison. Polluting compared to what? What we compare it to is each of our customers driving to the grocery store, in particular a natural food grocery store. This comparison leaves out some other neat facts about Greenling, but let's start there. On average in Austin people live 3 miles from a grocery store. This includes all grocery stores. I would say that on average people live 4-5 miles from a Whole Foods/Central Market/Sun Harvest/Wheatsville Coop, if not more. That's 8-10 miles round trip to go to the store.

Greenling trucks leave the warehouse with 60-80 baskets of food in them and drive about 100 miles to deliver all of them. That's 1.25-1.66 miles per delivery. Taking an average of 70 customers, driving to and from the grocery store themselves, that's 560-700 miles total, compared to our 100. So, just looking at the "last mile", or grocery-store-to-the-table, we get your food there with up to 86% less fuel. Amazing! 86% less energy just in the last leg of the food's trip. It's a straight comparison because our vans, completely packed with boxes and with a refrigeration unit blasting STILL get gas mileage as good as the average CAR! over 20 MPG. And I'm guessing there's more than average SUV and truck drivers in Austin, which get worse gas mileage. We get this kind of mileage because we use the most fuel efficient delivery vehicles available in the US, if you were wondering...it's not common for a delivery company to say that. They were 30% more expensive than the competition, but we're fairing the rising gas prices much better than our competition because of that choice AND to us it was an investment in the planet. It goes beyond the bottom-line...though we keep an eye on that too.

Now, considering we buy more than half of our food locally, that takes about another 1000 miles off the average product's food-mile total. Did you know that often when you buy a locally produced product from the grocery store it is actually shipped from a local producer to a national distributor as far away as Colorado, California, or all the way to the East Coast and then shipped back to your grocery store?! I find it rather disgusting. And it's true. Or, it's produced on the East Coast and shipped to the West Coast for distribution before it's shipped back here to the grocery stores. It's a horrible symptom of scaling distribution up and using mega distribution centers instead of regional ones. Squeeze out some extra profit...or at least with cheap gas it squeezes out extra profit. With fuel prices climbing, regional distribution centers are becoming more competitive with the mega ones.


Heather said...

I'm kinda surprised that the energy savings of one truck making several deliveries isn't obvious to all-- there's also got to be energy savings for Greenling in not having to have a store front like other grocery retailers on top of warehouse/ storage space, I'd think.

Anonymous said...

Especially if you get a bunch of neighbors to use Greenling! Mason will come out and do a presentation at your neighborhood pool/center (like he did for ours) and a lot of families became customers.