Shopping Sustainably on Amazon

By Kyle Hickey

Student Assistant for the UCLA Office of Sustainability

As we have retreated into our homes during this pandemic, many of us have turned to online shopping to replace the retail experience. Online shopping makes it easier to compare products and make purchases at the touch of a button. However, this convenience doesn’t come without a cost. The industry has a major impact on our environment, from all the excess packaging to the pollution released into the air from shipping. Here are some ways you can reduce the environmental impact of your Amazon purchases:

Request low-plastic packaging

Amazon packages often come wrapped in extra layers of plastic and bubble wrap. One simple step to cut down on the plastic arriving at your doorstep is to request low-plastic packaging. All you have to do is send a message to customer support using the “chat” feature requesting plastic-free packaging for future orders.

Stay away from single item purchases

Purchasing multiple items together at the same time allows products to be shipped in the same packaging and at the same time. This is much more efficient than shipping multiple items individually. If you don’t urgently need an item, try waiting until you have other items you need before making a purchase.

Choose slower shipping times

Amazon has drastically reduced how long it takes products to reach your door. You can get nearly anything you need within a day or two with their quick shipping options. However, this rapid shipping comes at the expense of efficiency. If you can wait a little longer for your purchase to arrive, opt for the slower shipping option. Amazon will even offer you credit sometimes for choosing the slower option.

Buy used

A good way to save money online is to buy a used product. Used goods are often cheaper while still being high quality and reducing the demand to create brand new products.

While these practices don’t eliminate the impact of your purchases, they can cut down on the emissions and wasted material harming our environment. Ultimately, the best way to reduce your footprint is to only buy what you need and cut down on unnecessary purchases. However, when you need to make an online purchase these can help make it a little more sustainable.