Here’s a new paradigm for you to consider. I am sure while this is a specific example, the idea is more widely applicable in your life if you think about it for a while and incorporate the approach. The approach can best be summarized by saying, when all else is equal (or nearly so) make the distance the item will travel the deciding factor in your purchase. The result will be an inevitable savings of the energy used in transportation.
I often buy books and textbooks online for my son’s schooling and just titles I want to read. I will often go to one of the larger bookselling sources which frequently have used textbooks offered for sale. If there is a used copy available, it is often at a greatly reduced cost. In fact, I recently purchased one listed new at my son’s school bookstore for $123.00, while the used version online was under $2.00! That’s right, $2.00! Apparently high school textbooks don’t have quite the resale value that college texts do.
Now, first of all, if you have ‘a thing’ about wanting to buy new only, that ‘thing’ is one which does not serve you or the sustainability of society. It is more often than not better to buy used. Even in textbook buying, the ratings of ‘New’, ‘Like New’, ‘Excellent’, ‘Good’, etc. along with more detailed description of condition will allow you to avoid buying a rag, or something your child will be ashamed to take out in class. The reward to you, clearly, is sometimes spectacular savings. The reward to society is that there is one less need to produce a brand-new something, and one more opportunity to keep something of value in use during its useful lifetime. And knowing the cycle of planned obsolescence for textbooks, this is a virtue that publishers seek to stamp out in their pursuit of profits at our expense (in more ways than one).
Now for a refinement of the point. In one case I was presented with a choice of 3 new or ‘like new’ copies of the same text, and no outright used bargains, since it was a brand new edition (that planned obsolescence I spoke of). Their pricing differed by a mere penny, since such sellers will often try to undercut one another thinnly to appear first on the list. But instead of buying the cheapest copy for the couple of cents savings, I decided to let the distance the book would have to travel guide my choice. I quickly downloaded a map of all the states in the US (I live in Hawaii, so I wanted an accurate one) and determined that AR (Arkansas) was a bit closer than MI (Michigan) the next closer source. So AR it was. While the distance saved was small in this case, the principal has far reaching application.
When presented with multiple sources for the same item try to choose the one that will require less energy for the shipping, whether or not the cost is the same, as it would have been in this case at a fixed $3.99 for USPS mail.
See also Used Textbooks.