Transportation is big business in America, and there are millions of delivery trucks criss-crossing this great nation. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to making trucking greener. Anti-idling systems, compressed natural gas engines, and aerodynamic trailers are all great ideas, and companies like UPS and FedEx are trying to go green too.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about these “solutions”, but until these solutions arrive, it is all pretty much “vaporware” to me. But there is another option outside of the big shipping companies.. It’s called uShip, and it lets you put your delivery up for auction, as well as choose from certified “green” shippers.
Sounds like a whole lot of corporate greenwashing, right? But as Dean Jutilla of uShip tells me, the company didn’t start out green…it just wound up that way. “There are a lot of empty trailers out there going to and from one location to the next,” Dean told me. “If we could find a way to fill up those empty trailers on their way back from another delivery, it could create a lot of extra business at a discount rate.”
The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of goods that need delivering. But empty trailers just take up road space and fuel. uShip hooks up people who need to make a delivery with transporters who are in the area. As the A&E show Shipping Wars (which uses uShips services) showed, the best transporters will pick up extra loads on the way to another delivery. It lines their pockets, and also means another truck won’t waste time and fuel to pick up that package.
uShip decided to take it even further though, offering its customers the chance to buy carbon offsets. Dean says that since 2006, 30,000 uShip customers have bought over 1,560 tons of carbon offsets by the end of 2011. uShip also purchased carbon offsets for 100% of its internal operations, including data servers, commuting, utilities, and even business travel.
For those who want to go that extra mile, there are over 5,000 transporters on uShip who voluntarily donate carbon offsets directly proportional to the CO2 emissions of their delivery. But not everybody has a lot to offset. One uShip shipper, Adam Winters, uses a Toyota Prius to drive about 20,000 miles a month to move stuff all across the United States. What a brilliant business model.
Next time you have to make a delivery, and want to pick up a few extra bucks delivering somebody else’s stuff, consider using uShip. Hell, I’m thinking about throwing together an old propane-powered pickup and making a few deliveries myself…