Air v. Sea: The Ocean Shipping Carbon Footprint You Never Knew About

May 10, 2021 2 min read

Air v. Sea: The Ocean Shipping Carbon Footprint You Never Knew About

A ton mile gives us a measurement term to talk about the carbon footprint of shipping an item. It also helps us compare the impact of shipping products using different transport methods.

Unless he overdid it on the brussel sprouts last night, the carbon emissions of a moose walking a mile down Main Street is going to be far less than the carbon emissions of a cargo plane moving pirate gold to their secret grotto.

AsScope5 puts it: “Not all ton-miles are equivalent in terms of their impact.”

CarbonFund provides a breakdown of types of shipping, in order of least impact to most impact:

As you can see, shipping by plane lets off the most carbon emissions per ton mile. The ocean shipping carbon footprint is 30 times less.

Because our products are manufactured inCambodia and China, we need a way to get them to our customers around the world. Truck and train aren’t always feasible with geography, so we’re leaning into ocean shipping as much as possible going forward. In fact, in our 2020 impact report, we highlighted our ocean shipping carbon footprint as one of our top opportunities to focus on this year (if you need a refresher, check outpage 6).

So, how are we going to do more ocean shipping?

Meet the Climate Friendly Shipping Option.

Officially branded in 2020, this program means our customers who choose to ship their custom orders via ocean instead of plane get a discount (and it’s a good one). Even better? This shipping option is 91% more efficient than shipping by air. Reduces carbon and money--win-win!

And that's not all: the Climate Friendly Shipping Option also comes with a whole lot of help. Because we get it: air freight is used when timelines are tight. It gets there faster. But if you want to do things differently, our team will sit down with you to help plan ahead and figure out the best timeline to get you the product you need in a price- and planet-friendly way.

Take it from one of our clients….

Vegetable and Butcher, based out of Washington, D.C., ordered 250 units of To-Go Ware Classic Utensil sets.