By MADISON M. MACLEOD
It all started with eyeliner.
As an Amazon prime member, I feverishly mass ordered everything from cosmetics to dog toys, opting for everything to be delivered as soon as possible, regardless of the number of boxes it would take to ship. On Cyber Monday, before Christmas, I was out of control with online shopping. I had very little consideration for the materials being used and had a very poor understanding of where plastic really comes from. But when I opened a cardboard box from Amazon that was large enough to fit three textbooks, stuffed with inflated plastic packaging, all for one tiny stick of eyeliner which was smaller than your average pencil, I realized something had to change.
If you are among those who cannot deny the scientific fact that climate change is real, you know that the amount of plastic we are manufacturing and discarding is very concerning. All plastic is a petroleum product. Let me say that again: every piece of plastic on earth was from fossil fuels extracted from beneath the earth and then refined and mixed with other chemicals to achieve its desired form. We have only a small understanding of what these chemicals, like endocrine disruptors, do to our bodies, and what we have discovered is not good. What is just as troubling is that recycling plastic is not a good solution either. Recycling is inefficient, it is often done offshore (requiring more shipping and fuel), and the actual process costs energy and clean water. We could eliminate this problem altogether by simply saying no to plastic.
Amazon.com is a massive company whose logo is recognizable around the world. The amount of plastic they produce for shipping is unfathomable. In many countries, like Germany, Amazon already offers sustainable shipping options, like using post-consumer recycled paper and compostable peanuts as packaging materials. So why not in America, the country that Amazon.com calls home? Understandably, not every single item can be shipped this way, but MANY can, and this would make a HUGE, positive impact on our environment. Consumers just need to be given the option.
This is why I’ve started campaigning for Amazon to establish Zero Waste here in America. The customer service department has been very polite about my request so far, and I am hopeful that if more customers make the same plea, our voices will not only be heard, but our packaging options will grow to include more sustainable choices. If you agree with this concept, I would be honored for you to voice your opinion to them as well. You are invited to use the template provided below to write to Amazon directly, or share the love online–be sure to use the hashtag #AmazonZeroWaste and tag Amazon on social media.
You are one of the most successful companies in history. Your name is household and your logo is recognizable around the world–a world that is being destroyed by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. We all know the consequences of deforestation, but many consumers do not realize that plastics are manufactured from extracted fossil fuels, many forms of which leach toxins, and all forms being difficult, expensive and often impossible to recycle.
Our oceans are suffocating in plastic.
I am telling you this, because you have the power to make a change that could start a shift in the way all consumers think when making purchases; they just need to be given the option to select zero waste packaging and be informed as to why this is so imperative. As you have led the way in so many other aspects, why not lead the way in zero waste shipping for the sake of our planet?
I am advocating for Amazon Zero Waste. Just as the consumer can click to select “Prime Only” in their searches, providing a Zero Waste option can give them the choice to search for and purchase products with minimal packaging made out of sustainable materials. That means using compostable peanuts and 100% postconsumer recycled paper as packaging material, and 100% postconsumer recycled cardboard boxes for shipment. I understand this is not possible for every item, but MANY items could be packaged this way.
Global warming and climate change are well beyond the point where we can stop its effects, but we have to do EVERYTHING in our power to mitigate it to ensure the future survival of life on Earth.
PLEASE LEAD THE WAY! Make Amazon Zero Waste an option for buyers.
[Your Name Here]
Madison M. MacLeod is a Veterinary Technician and UC Santa Cruz student living outside San Francisco, California with her boyfriend, a yellow lab, and two Japanese chins. She’s active in both animal rights and environmentalism and promotes a Zero Waste lifestyle through education and awareness.