Cardboard boxes delivered at front door

There are more than 163.5 million Amazon Prime subscribers in the United States, which is expected to grow to 176 million in 2025.

If you’re a paying Amazon Prime member like a lot of people, 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 we may not have time to roam aisles, with the quick touch of a few buttons, almost anything we 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 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 are 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 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 package’s journey. Once it arrives in your neighborhood’s designated sorting facility, your local USPS, FedEx, or UPS driver collects your package and delivers it straight to your door.

Even for the orders you don’t need to be rushed; this process is essentially the same. Only your products may arrive by 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 we must have balanced and thoughtful discussions about energy policy. Whether we know it or not, energy affects almost everything we do and use daily. Without it, we would be waiting weeks, not days, to get our products if it weren’t for affordable and reliable energy.