Online shopping GOOD for the environment: Research shows we’re saving lots of energy by staying home
02/10/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Technology continues to make things easier and faster, and that can be seen in online shopping and working from home. Moreover, nowadays, a lot of people tend to just stay at home instead of going out. A study revealed that even though online shopping is bad for social life, it is beneficial for the environment as there is less energy consumption in non-residential establishments, such as offices and stores, and transportation when people stay at home.

A study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Rochester Institute of Technology who looked at how developments in information technology are changing the lifestyle of Americans, specifically those below the age of 65.

Today, more people are spending time at home. The study was based on 10 years of American Time Use Surveys with around 11,000 participants each year who were asked to report how they spend their time. The surveys were conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Results revealed that Americans spent on average an additional eight days at home in 2012 than in 2003, with one day less traveling and one week less in non-residential buildings. These changes were observed largely in people between 18 and 24 years old who spent 70 percent more time at home in comparison to the general population. Rather, people aged 65 and above were the only group who spent more time outside the house in 2012 than in 2003.

These behavioral changes were mapped by the research team to energy use. It was found that a total of 480 trillion British thermal unit (bTU) increase in energy usage at home and a 1,000 trillion bTU and 1,200 trillion bTU decrease in energy usage for non-residential and transportation spaces, respectively.


"This work raises awareness of the connection between lifestyle and energy. Now that we know people are spending more time at home, more focus could be put on improving residential energy efficiency,” said Ashok Sekar  from the University of Texas at Austin and the first author of the study.

The study authors believe that the changes are a result of the development of information and communication technology, which caused an increase in video watching and computer use, and better work-from-home options. The findings of the study were published in the journal Joule.

Increase in online shopping

Shoppers are buying more items online than in stores, this is the result of the yearly survey conducted by the analytics company comScore and UPS in 2016. More than 5,000 consumers who make a minimum of two online purchases within three months took part in the study. The results revealed that shoppers make 51 percent of their purchases online, in comparison to 48 percent in 2015 and 47 percent in 2014. The survey also showed that there is an increase in the use of smartphones to shop online. It revealed that 44 percent of smartphone users made purchases through their devices compared to 41 percent in 2015.

In November 2017, shoppers spent $28.6 billion through online shopping, which is 18 percent more than they did in November 2016, according to a report by Adobe Analytics, as cited by CNBC. It was recorded that from November 1 to 21, the revenue each day reached at least $1 billion. (Related: People walk less to shop than they did 10 years ago; statistics reveal we are shopping online instead.)

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