Monday, March 22, 2010

is the path always greener on the other side?

so if I was feeling a "little" uneasy about getting myself a new nano instead of trying to salvage the old one, I felt even worse when I clicked on the FedEx tracking number link in my shipment confirmation from Apple. It had been shipped about an hour after I bought it, so I truly expected to see it on my desk this rainy dreary Monday morning. I would gleefully peel open the cardboard box and unwrap my new toy with "happy birthday andrea" succinctly engraved on the gleaming orange case.

So I clicked, perusing the page to find out where it was shipped from, and where it had stopped on its way to Philadelphia. You know, something like this: Origin Scan: Omaha>Chicago>Philadelphia>out for delivery or something like that.

Instead, to my surprise and dismay I saw that actually my ipod appears to have been drop-shipped directly from China. You heard it right.

It appears that as of today, it is in Anchorage Alaska (!) awaiting international shipping release from its journey off a ship from Shenzhen, China and then on to Hong Kong.

Wouldn't my carbon footprint be much less muddy if I had gotten into my 14-year old SUV and driven to Best Buy to get this gadget? Yes it might not have been orange, or monogrammed. Those complete unnecessary attributes are exactly the enticements that Apple dangled to get me to buy directly from them. I was not even thinking of carbon at the time, as I assumed that I was continuing my frequent practice of buying almost all of my consumables online in bulk. This way I let UPS or Fedex deliver the goods in as efficient a method as possible, by grouping my deliveries in with the deliveries of everyone on my block, in my 'hood, and in my city. And by doing so I almost never have to move my car on the weekends at all. Less guilt that I drive that old cherokee that has one tire in the junkyard at this point.

But no, the shiny apple had been proffered and I took a delicious bite, unwittingly, and almost as innocently as Eve herself. And in hitting "send" on the bottom of my shopping cart I set into motion a series of electrical impulses that were heard across the globe, as a Fulfillment Center in Shenzen received the request and my little scrap of orange metal, the size of half of a chocolate bar and thin as a mint girl-scout cookie, was stamped with my name and number and sent on its way to Hong Kong and then onto Anchorage. It would zigzag it's way across the continents and finally arrive at the loading dock of Liberty Flooring in Lester, PA and into my hot little hands.

While this seems like a brilliant study in logistics and marketing, it also seems like an abysmal waste of energy, that one woman's mouse click in Philadelphia can burn so much fossil fuel to get herself one little Nano. I am hoping that my FedEx tracking notification was sort of, I dunno, not to be taken literally, as in, "yes we made it look like you were special but actually this is the tracking info for every piece of chinese-made crap that was on that container ship and a good half a ton of it was accompanying your ipod to Philadelphia on the same tankload of fuel--get over yourself."

Anyway, to sum it all up: I am doing some research now to figure out what the greenest way is to purchase items like this and when I work it all out I will post something. Feel free to chime in if you have any ideas or links. And after looking back at my life, which I have done quite a bit lately, I realize that guilt has really never has helped me at all. All I can do is get up every day and try and live better. And greener.

OOCL Shenzhen: World's Largest Container Ship
A little old and a little off-topic, perhaps, but almost every bit of electronics hardware we use every day comes into our country via container ship. This beauty is the Orient Overseas Container Line Shenzhen, out of Hong Kong. It is big.
Thanks to large-scale automation, Shenzhen has a crew complement of only 19, and virtually the entire ship can be controlled and adjusted from a single Windows-based computer terminal. Several such terminals are scattered throughout the ship, meaning that the ship s officers can make adjustments to the ship from their cabins if necessary.
Largest Container Ship [GuinnessWorldRecords]


Neil said...

Hum…because of the global warming that you and your nano caused, I was able to ride on dry, Michigan trails last week. Honestly I want to feel bad, but it was so nice to ride without winter gear in March.

Unknown said...

I'm glad I could help you out you lucky dog.