Amazon, the company that catapulted founder Jeff Bezos to billionaire status (and to the edge of space), has long been touted as environmentally unfriendly; the company emits the same level of carbon emissions as the country of Norway, according to a report released by Amazon in 2019.
Its impact on the environment, and on the lives of its warehouse workers, means that many customers have switched to alternative companies that are more ethical, environmentally friendly, and aligned with their personal values.
The good news about switching from Amazon is that there are plenty of options, thanks to the myriad of alternatives available to consumers and customers.
But it’s also important to acknowledge that switching from Amazon is a privilege due to all sorts of factors including affordability and accessibility. Many people use Amazon for its delivery speed, accessibility in rural communities, cheap pricing, and range of products; that’s why it’s still a step towards progress if you’re able to switch out Amazon for certain needs, if not all of them.
Alternatives to Amazon:
Depending on what you use Amazon for, you may not know of alternative companies and options for the things that you buy.
If you, for example, use Amazon as your primary means of purchasing books, you might prefer to check out Bookshop.org, which supports a local bookstore with each purchase, or ThriftBooks, which sells affordable used books.
For fans of audiobooks who don’t want to continue using Audible (owned by Amazon), there’s Libro.fm, which enables audiobooks to be purchased through your local bookstore. A monthly subscription costs the same amount as an Audible subscription, and has the same vast selection of audiobooks.
For general supplies, you can check out marketplaces like Thrive Market (which offers healthy and organic food), EarthHero (all eco-friendly and sustainable products), or DoneGood (which stocks brands and products that are eco-friendly and pay fair wages to workers). Also, UncommonGoods is an environmentally friendly B Corp that has a great selection of home goods and gifts.
Also, when it comes to streaming services, did you know it’s possible to subscribe only to Prime Video without subscribing to everything else that Amazon offers? You can still watch your favorite Amazon Prime Originals without supporting the rest of the platform! Additionally, while some Amazon Originals are only available on Prime Video, a significant portion of their catalog is also available on other platforms such as Hulu or HBO Now.
Shopping for technology can be done sustainably as well and doesn’t have to be done through Amazon. There are other ways to get your gadgets and goods, but shopping local is best; you can use Locally to see what stores are available near you. If you’re unable to shop in person and appreciate Amazon for its online convenience, you can actually use eBay to shop for second-hand electronics and gadgets, so you can give a second life to products instead of needing a new product to be manufactured.
Poshmark is a great place to shop secondhand for clothes, some home decor, and beauty products as an alternative to Amazon's offerings. Rather than buying something brand new, you’ll save resources and reduce potential textile waste. Plus, you can sell your own clothes on the platform to give them a second life.
What if you can't fully switch away from Amazon?
If you can’t make the complete switch away from Amazon, that's okay. It's still possible to make small changes that align with your goals and values.
One small change you can make is to set up Amazon Smile to support nonprofits with your purchases. While this shouldn’t be an excuse to spend more, it’s a way to do some small good if you do have to shop from Amazon.
You can also make small but vital changes like requesting no plastic in your packaging by going to Amazon's customer service page and requesting that all future orders be plastic free with minimal packaging (and when absolutely necessary, use degradable material).
Similarly, when you don’t need a product immediately, selecting the No-Rush Shipping option will oftentimes allow your products to be shipped more efficiently and sustainably, depending on your location.
Lastly, cutting Amazon out where you can is just as important as not using it at all. It’s a luxury to be able to cut Amazon out of your life completely, but being able to make essential small changes to your order is a great way of doing good where you can.
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