Community green shipping

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Box photo by Flickr user ahhyeah.

The question we're asking is: how can the Green Garage community join together to reduce both its collective shipping costs and the ecological footprint of its shipping activity?

We're calling our answer Green Community Co-Shipping. Here's a FAQ for more information:


What is Green Community Co-Shipping?

It's what we're calling our attempt to make shipping through UPS easier, more cost effective, and greener for our community of businesses-in-residence. One tool we're using to accomplish this is an associate discount program available through UPS.

What's that all about?

It's a way of linking multiple individual UPS account numbers to a single umbrella account so that all members of the association benefit from each other's shipping activity.

How do association members benefit from each other's shipping activity?

Association members are entitled to a series of discounts on both inbound and outbound packages shipped through UPS. The rolling discount structure is based on the total amount of money that all members spend on shipping through UPS every month, so as more people from the community ship through UPS, everyone in the community has the opportunity to benefit from greater savings.

What kinds of discounts are we talking about?

Discounts vary based on total weekly shipping charges and type of shipping (ground v. air, commercial v. residential), as well as package weight (in the case of ground shipping). UPS has asked us not to share their discounts publicly, so for a more specific look at some possible savings, ask Matt to see the relevant documentation, including a few examples.

So how do I start?

If you don't have a UPS account, you need to contact UPS to register for one and to join the association.

If you already have a UPS account, you need to contact UPS to join the Green Garage's association.

Our contact at UPS is Sabrina Garcia; go through her to both set up accounts and join the association. Her email is A few things to keep in mind: it can take a day or two to set up an account, and discount pricing only goes into effect every Monday. So if you set up an account on Tuesday, discounted shipping rates will only be available to you starting the following Monday.

Once I have an account number and am enrolled in the association, how do I benefit from affiliation savings on outbound packages?

When sending packages, you'll want to log into the UPS site (using your account number) and enter all the relevant information (e.g., package weight, dimensions, destination, etc.). Schedule a pickup (rates vary) or choose to drop the package off at a UPS store.

What are my pickup options?

If you're shipping weekly and want to have a regularly scheduled pickup, you could sign up for Daily pickups at $22/week or Smart pickups (let them know ahead of time and they show up w/in a few hours) for $10/week. Otherwise you can schedule a pickup on a specific day in the future.

How do I benefit from affiliation savings on inbound packages?

This is a little trickier. It's not so simple if you're ordering from a website with a "shopping cart" model, and much easier if you're placing a direct phone or PayPal order with a vendor. The key is to get the sender your UPS account number, after which your UPS account will be billed for shipping at your discounted rate.

How do I pay for this?

You'll receive a monthly invoice from UPS for your month's shipping charges.

So how is this green?

When shipping packages through UPS, you'll have the option of selecting a "Carbon Neutral" option which, if selected, will add ~$.20 to your total bill and will counter the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the package's transport. (For every ton of CO2 a package produces in transportation, an equivalent amount of CO2 is saved by a verified emission reduction project somewhere else in the world.)

Are there any other benefits to signing up?

Once you've signed up for a UPS account, you'll have the ability to actively track all your parcels. Also, just by signing up for a UPS account (even without the Green Garage affiliation), you're already entitled to discounts on packages. You're also eligible to receive free shipping materials.

Community Learning/Benefits

  • What can we learn about more sustainable shipping from our resident expert, Curt Malouin of Red Panda? Can his various strategies be adopted by the whole community? Are they applicable to others? What is he doing with a box company in Plymouth?
  • Can we get in the habit of bringing in extra boxes for use by others in the community?
    • Can Curt Develop a document with a list of used box sizes, styles, and conditions that he would accept for reuse?
    • Kirsten's brother owns a UPS store and would accept sturdy, clean, used boxes.
  • Curt currently has his UPS account setup for Smart Pickup. Can others benefit from that and coordinate several pickups at once (i.e., use the buddy system)? If enough people get on board, could we start some specific shipping email list to let each other know when we have scheduled pickups?