Received in the Mail

This week a flier landed in my mailbox begging me to “Order online: Save gas and the planet!”

Is it that advertisers genuinely don’t get that shipping a dress from Ohio to my doorstep eats up petroleum, or is it that they think we consumers are dumb enough to think shipping is the efficient option? I can’t decide which is worse.

It takes an average of three cups of gas to ship one cup of orange juice to anyone outside of California or Florida, where most oranges we eat in the U.S. are grown. But an increasing number of oranges are grown in South America and Africa, so an already high cost will further increase.

I’m lucky that eating locally in San Francisco means a lot of the things I love have long growing seasons. But I realize it’s a long shot to expect people, for example, in the Midwest to give up citrus fruit and seafood.

I’ve been looking more closely at how my own buying patterns affect what has to be made, grown, and shipped from elsewhere. Nothing delivered from more than an hour’s drive away. Nothing that was grown in a greenhouse. This is something I’ve been thinking about especially as more data on the pollution that wafts across the Pacific to the U.S. has come to light.

It’s not about how everyone else or another country should be doing something.

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