So you’ve made the decision to reduce what you produce, live a low-impact lifestyle, and ultimately, reduce the amount of waste you create. You buy in bulk using mason jars, make your own toothpaste and deodorant at home, and carry a spork and stainless steel straw arsenal at all times. But wait—are you supposed to give up your beloved Amazon Prime account?
It’s true that the #1 rule to creating less waste is well, buying less. The less you buy, the less waste there is to create and therefore, the lower the environmental impact. But that in itself isn’t always sustainable (or realistic). You don’t have to give up your prized Amazon packages in order to be a zero-waster. In fact, Amazon is super flexible and also supportive of the low-impact movement. Not only does Amazon make massive efforts to cut waste (and costs) with its Frustration-Free Packaging but the online-shopping destination also gives back through several environmentally-friendly ventures—like the Amazon Wind Farm Texas which adds more than 1,000,000 MWh of clean energy annually. (Side note: Did you know Amazon has 18+ wind and solar farms throughout the US?)
Feel better about ordering with Amazon? You should! Going low-impact is all about making conscious choices and understanding the impact each decision has on our environment. With several features and options to personalize orders, ethical ordering in the form of near zero-waste packages from Amazon is totally feasible; it’s just a matter of knowing where to go, what to look for, and what your options are.
Keep reading to find out five ways to reduce the impact of your Amazon orders!
Alert customer service
First and foremost, Amazon’s Customer Service wants to work with you. After all, Amazon offers many efforts that solidify it as an eco-friendly company all about supporting lowest-possible environmental impact consumerism. They’re proud of their stance on the responsible disposal and appropriate recycling of electronics, and even donate food that would otherwise end up in landfills to food banks. Shoot Customer Service an email, requesting they make a note on your account to avoid plastic or otherwise surplus packaging when possible. You can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, there is no automated way to do this on your account yet but by going straight the source, Customer Service will likely do their best to accommodate your low-waste desires.
Sign up for Frustration-Free Packaging
Frustration-Free Packaging is a zero waste friendly system unique to Amazon. Basically, Frustration-Free Packaging means that you’re signing up to eliminate any kind of packaging that isn’t totally necessary: think packaging peanuts, a box within a box unnecessarily, etc. The box your package will come in is 100% recyclable and all that surplus junk that often comes with regular packaging will not be in tow. Not every Amazon product is available for Frustration-Free, but over 300,000 items are. An easy way to ascertain if something is available on FFP is just typing it into the search bar along with whatever you’re looking for: “tongue scraper frustration free packaging.” It doesn’t get more straight-forward than that!
One excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint is to extend the shelf-life of things that already had a go-around. This is easy to do on Amazon. Have you ever been shopping around for college textbooks or books and noticed there’s almost always a cheaper “used” version available? Opt for that one! In addition to shopping this way, you can also peruse the Amazon Warehouse, which offers a catalogue of various products that have been bought and then returned. Some things may come with some minor flaws and a “gently-used” category but by shopping on Amazon this way, you’re saving money and the Earth.
We already established that Amazon wants to work with you, right? Well, the main way they will know if they’re doing a good (or poor) job is if you tell them. If you receive a package and you’re super happy with the results and the packaging, shoot them an email letting them know. The same rule goes for if you’re disappointed with an order’s packaging. Let them know, too. You can do this by emailing email@example.com.
Request that separate orders ship together
Amazon is soooo convenient, right? Especially Amazon Prime. But here’s the thing with exceptionally quick turnaround when it comes to online shopping: it means that multiple resources are being used to deliver multiple orders. So if you do a bulk purchase on Amazon Prime—say you order two or three things—by choosing Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery, you’re essentially opting for each of the things you ordered to be shipped out and delivered separately. By opting for less of a delivery turnaround, you give Amazon the opportunity to ship products together, therefore cutting down on waste and shipping resources (ie: trucks, air delivery, etc.). You can also specifically request that your items be shipped together—just shoot Customer Service an email. (They’re going to get to know you on a first-name basis pretty soon!)
Recycle what you are given
Listen: there is probably no such thing as a truly zero waste Amazon package. Maybe it exists, maybe it doesn’t. But still, there is a lot you can do to get your Amazon packages to as low an impact as possible. If you’ve executed all of the aforementioned tips and you’re still left with more waste then you’d like, you can always recycle what you’ve been left with. Things like bubble wrap and air-filled plastic pieces can be dropped off at various locations like Lowes, Target, and Walmart (or any place that recycles plastic bags) where they collect and reuse it. Foam packaging peanuts and bubble wrap can also go to UPS locations as long as they are not soiled. If you’re not sure where your drop-off locations are, check out How2Recycle.It’s not about being perfect; it’s about understanding the repercussions, the impact of each of our decisions and then planning our choices accordingly to make as low an impact as is realistic.