There are more than 200 million Amazon Prime subscribers around the world and 80% of shoppers have signed up for the various reward networks with their favorite brands to guarantee they never miss a sale and earn points towards free shipping.
If you’re a paying Amazon Prime member like me, you probably love the fact that you can order almost anything from your phone, computer, or iPad and it will be at your doorstep within two days. While I may not have time to roam aisles, with the quick touch of a few buttons, almost anything I want, or need, will be on its way without ever stepping foot in a store.
But have you ever considered how this expedited shipping process really works? Like how you can order a tote bag made in China or a dress from a store in California and it shows up at your doorstep in no time? Based on “Track My Package”, once an order is placed and a customer service agent has verified the order, your purchase(s) are gathered and packaged. If the items happen to be at one location this usually happens together, if not, this process happens twice.
After your items have been processed, if you are buying from an international vendor, your items will have to get on a plane that uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel every second. That means that over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons in order for you to receive your products as promised. (A weight equivalent to a blue whale.) Once your package lands in the U.S. and is unloaded, it is quickly moved into cargo bins for another plane or semi-truck to transport to the appropriate facility – if you’ve ordered from the U.S. this is the next leg of your packages’ journey. Once it arrives in your neighborhoods designated sorting facility, your local USPS, FedEx or UPS driver collects your package and delivers it straight to your door.
Even for orders you don’t need rushed, this process is essentially the same, only your products may arrive by a ship, plane or truck that is not “expedited,” which means it will take a little longer to reach you at your destination. Yet, none of this would be possible without affordable energy sources. Planes use jet fuel. Ships and semi-trucks use diesel and gasoline.
Many of us tend to think that certain types of energy are only used to heat and cool homes or help our passenger cars and trucks operate, but understanding that many of the luxuries we have – like expedited shipping – to help us get the things we want, and need, faster and more efficiently, it is important to understand the greater role that energy plays in our daily lives.
That’s why it’s vital we have balanced and thoughtful discussions about energy policy. Whether we know it or not, energy affects almost everything we do and use every day. Without it, we would be waiting weeks not days, to get our products if it weren’t for affordable and reliable energy.