Are Amazon’s Sustainability Measures Legitimate?

In 2019, Amazon was responsible for producing an estimated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste—enough plastic to circle around the world over 500 times.


Amazon claims to have environmental concerns in mind through their Frustration-Free Packaging options (introduced in 2008) and Climate Pledge Friendly products. However, due to a lack of commitment towards transparency and continued refusal to meet sustainable packaging practices- Amazon’s sustainability measures are not legitimate. Let’s talk about why.

Climate Pledge

Shop for Climate Pledge Friendly products


Amazon’s Waste Reduction Shipping Program

Amazon offers Frustration-Free Packaging, which ships items out with recyclable materials. This shipping method does not use Amazon packaging; instead, it involves packaging that suits the size and shape of the ordered product (a snug fit means fewer packaging materials). Something to keep in mind, before you start shopping, is that Amazon does not offer this option for every product. We’ve got your back though- All products that use Frustration-Free Packaging are listed here

It's essential to acknowledge how much plastic waste is produced by Amazon, and what it means for the environment. A 2020 report by Oceana elaborates on Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging Program: “Amazon does not disclose the amount of plastic it uses and whether the [Frustration-Free Packaging] program has resulted in an increase or decrease of plastic use” (Oceana, 2020). Amazon’s half-hearted attempts lack transparency, so (if possible) you may want to consider supporting some alternative ethical online marketplaces listed here

Amazon Packages

▴ Amazon delivers on average 1.5 million packages per day 


Since not every product uses Frustration-Free Packaging, many Amazon users took the initiative to ask for more sustainable packaging features. There used to be an option to email Amazon and place a request for plastic-free packaging. Upon request, Amazon would mark your account to make sure all of your future orders are delivered plastic-free.

However, as of June 2019, this is no longer an option as Amazon does not currently accept these e-mailed requests (after attempting this request, you are met with an automated email that does not provide links for packaging options). Some awesome people decided to take action though, check out this petition for plastic-free packaging options.


Climate Pledge Friendly Amazon Products

While scrolling through Amazon’s endless market, you’ll be able to find products with a Climate Pledge Friendly label. According to Amazon, this label means that manufacturers have improved at least one aspect of their product to suit sustainable purposes.


The Climate Pledge Friendly certifications include independent labs, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. These certifications compose of reducing the number of chemicals in the production process, using recycled materials, and other sustainable practices. A direct link to all of the products listed with the Climate Pledge Friendly label can be found here


However, it’s crucial to note that only one aspect of a product has to be changed in order to meet the Climate Pledge Friendly requirements- is that enough? Some of the products under the Climate Pledge Friendly label aren’t necessarily sustainable; although they’ve been improved, they still have environmental impacts. 


Here’s an example: one of the first products featured under the Climate Pledge Friendly label is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day household cleaner, which is labeled as a high concern for acute aquatic toxicity by the Environmental Working Group. We’ve also noticed that many of the products that are listed as Climate Pledge Friendly cannot be shipped with Frustration-Free Packaging.


MR Myers Clean Day

▴ Mrs Myer's Clean Day household cleaner


Why is this important? Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have been reliant on online shopping. So, how do we go about avoiding Amazon? If it’s possible, we recommend supporting ethical market places (that include plastic-free products, carbon reclamation, and tree-planting operations). If you’re searching for something specific, you can check to see if any local small businesses are selling the product you’re looking for and buy directly from the shop (we may have ordered too many books from our local bookstore… it’ll be our secret!). 


Of course, these alternatives may be more time-consuming, but every bit better for the environment! We completely understand that finding the time to find sustainable alternatives can be challenging, so stay tuned… we’ll help you along the way!


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Article by Impact Snacks Contributor, Ava Tajally

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