Shipping containers | Source: Pexels

Taking Steps to Fix a Problem We Can No Longer Control

by Erin Gagne, logistics coordinator, Grand Prix International Inc. (GPI)

How do our customers get what they want? They order online or run to a local store. 

Big and small retail businesses alike are booming — especially after a year on lockdown — but have you ever stopped to think about what kind of carbon footprint delivery all that product is leaving behind?  It’s more than you think, and a big part of that footprint comes from shipping.

All products — whether they’re made in the U.S. or imported — use the shipping industry to get to their destination.  Most travel at least two voyages before they get into the consumer’s hands.  Before “Buy it Now” is even clicked, that product has already traveled from the factory, to the warehouse, to the distributor, and — if going to a brick and mortar location — from the distributor to the retailer. 

Planes, trucks, trains, and ships are transporting your goods at the click of a button, but they’re also polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth we live on every day. 

Freight-related transportation can account for 30% or more of a company’s total carbon footprint. Our immediate need for products is speeding along Mother Nature’s demise. So, how does this happen and what can we do to reduce the damage?

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Although it is a huge part of our global economy, the shipping industry is a significant threat to our environment. Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline causes greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and sulfur oxide. These gases build up in the Earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet’s temperature and significantly affecting all life.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation alone contributes to 29% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The International Maritime Organization recognized this problem with their container ships, and in 2019 pushed to have scrubbers installed on as many container ships as possible. This was a big undertaking as installing engine scrubbers can take a ship off the water for more than a week. Scrubbers remove sulfur oxide from exhaust gases, greatly reducing greenhouse gases. This resulted in the containership industry becoming the most outfitted scrubber industry in 2020.

Many freight forwarders are partnering with “go green” foundations to offset their carbon footprints. These foundations plant trees, donate to wind farms, support electric truck stops, clean oceans, and more. GPI has joined one of these carbon offset programs, and since May of last year, we have donated enough money through our full container load (FCL) shipments to reduce greenhouse gases equal to the amount absorbed by 298 acres of trees.   

Every little bit helps when it comes to the environment, so look into specialized programs or even donate to some of these programs on your own. Many forwarders donate to these programs, but don’t have programs set up for their customers to help join to help the fight. Don’t hesitate to ask your shipper about any go-green incentives or programs they offer. 


This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of the Toy BookClick here to read the full issue!