How To Make Your International Shipping Greener

For most people, shipping something quickly internationally boils down to a small bowl of alphabet soup: DHL, UPS, or FedEx. End of story. It’s just how things get done. But for an increasing number of people, they’re aware of the fact that airplane flight plays a major part in contributing to global climate change. But most only know part of the story.

Ship Greener

In a conversation with Justin Brown of First Global Xpress, I began to find out: All the major international shippers use a “hub and spoke” system to distribute packages. In a case of bureaucracy overriding logic, a package sent from New York to Europe may first go to New Jersey, then go several miles in the wrong direction, to Memphis Tennessee, then back overseas, taking in the sights at several major and regional sorting centers until it arrives. Why? It defies logic, in terms of efficiency, ecology, and economy.

And get this: according to Justin, 30% of jet fuel consumed is during take off. So, add up those extraneous miles, plus the fuel consumed each flight, and you’ve got an enormous carbon footprint here, an unnecessary one.

What to do? Enter First Global Xpress.

What’s different about them? First off, they fly direct to the intended destination via the cargo space on a commercial airliner, of which they have reserved space on 95 airlines, and growing. In most cases, multiple flights a day are available to take your package. And generally speaking, your package will get there 24 hours earlier and 20% cheaper then the big boys.

Shipping that’s both more sustainable and affordable, how about that? But that’s not enough for Justin. He is of a new wave of green entrepreneurs that see a way to integrate their emerging green personal values with their business values, for the benefit of all.

Though he could easily say that his company is green, as compared to others, he wisely has chosen to forge on, examining how First Global Xpress can do even better. And even then, he prefers to refer to the company as shipping greener, not green. He knows that overseas expedited shipping will never be totally green, and even encourages clients to seek local options where possible, rather then ship. A sign of a businessman who sees the bigger picture, to be sure.

And Justin has chosen to be very transparent about the process, through the newly launched blog, Shedding light on the industry, showing their experiments, the successes, the goofs, the whole thing, this is no perfect shiny self promotional wank. Knowing that people don’t want to hear about shipping all day long, he’s got plans to take you along on his NYC bicycle commute, talk to other business people venturing into the green waters, and more.

What else is in store then as far as greener international shipping at First Global Xpress? From how they package their packages to how they get them there on the ground, they will be improving and overhauling how they do what they do. (Details here) In fact, they’ve set the ambitious goal of reducing their overall carbon footprint by 66% by the end of the year. Will they do it? Who knows, but kudos to them for setting such an ambitious goal. Talking to Justin, I can tell you it’s not just hot air. Watch them do it. Better yet, make them your international shipper.

Additional reading:

Interview: Justin Brown of FGX on shipping greener

How to Green Your Mail

Greener Shipping

Eco-Effective Mail: USPS Turns to MBDC to Create Cradle-to-Cradle Packages

About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see He also writes for Triple Pundit
  • I absolutely love that First Global Xpress is getting the coverage they are getting because they deserve it. The transparency and honesty coming from Justin’s blog at www, should be a lesson to many other companies both in and out of the shipping industry. It is this kind of transparency of how companies operate and how companies waste that will lend a huge hand in delivering the awareness to the public that is so desperately needed. If only more corporations had the guts to be so truthful about their shortcomings in the eco-friendly sector. Thank you for a great read I truely enjoyed it.

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  • Kudos to companies like First Global Express

  • Interesting article. I think "green shipping" should become more popular among the companies in the industry. Even if it's not possible to be 100% eco-friendly, it's still possible to contribute just a little bit. Nowadays, the shift to become more and more green is necessary – that's how you can build trust among people and build your reputation.

  • Interesting article. I think “green shipping” should become more popular among the companies in the industry. Even if it’s not possible to be 100% eco-friendly, it’s still possible to contribute just a little bit. Nowadays, the shift to become more and more green is necessary – that’s how you can build trust among people and build your reputation.

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