On demand Economy’s Growing EcoCosts

Polluting the environment and creating waste is so much part of our daily lives that we don’t event think about it. It bugs me that our industry — technology sector that is — often talks about making the world a better world, and yet we continue to make same mistakes, take same shortcuts and be part of the same status-quo.

About six months ago, I had pointed out that how our reliance on on-demand economy had a huge ecological cost. The worst offender, I thought was Amazon, which has become one of the biggest mover of goods in our society. Since then, the company has launched Prime Now, its new hour-ish service, and now thus now is creating more packaging waste.

Uber, it seems has started to push the gas-guzzling GMC SubUrbans and massive SUVs on their “Uber Classic” customer. Can’t the standardize around cars that are more efficient, take less room on the road and have a smaller impact on the environment? Why pick on these two — as there are newer and newer culprits. On demand food services, for example.

Kiera Butler writing for the onEarth magazine too is wondering about the hidden costs of the “farm-to-FedEx-to-table” movement. “While no one has done a complete environmental analysis of make-at-home meal delivery, Blue Apron may beat grocery store shopping when it comes to food waste,” Butler wrote. 

Ellen Cushing, a Buzzfeed writer points out that Blue Apron (which sends you recipes and pre-packaged ingredients) is becoming successful enough to become a major/leading player in the soon to be $5 billion market. Its success has also made it one of the star-members of the on-demand economy’s growing list of eco-polluters. It delivers food from two major centers (Richmond, California and Jersey City, New Jersey) which means the carbon footprint of the company is pretty significant. The food components/ingredients come packaged in small individual packets and that create more trash and more pollution in the environment.

PCH Intl. founder Liam Casey recently said that “we have to show consumers a path to make a better decision. If you can help consumers do that, then they’ll do it.” It is time for our new on-demand economy leaders to listen to him, and take a lead.

San Francisco, November 27, 2015

A letter from Om

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