By Sylvie Verinder, Director of Education.

In 2017, Amazon Prime shipped over 5 billion items worldwide. Online shopping is another source of problematic single use plastic (SUP) due to the plastic protective packaging stuffed in the boxes to keep our orders safe and secure.

Our Communications Manager, Tash Rutherford, cutting up plastic packaging from her Amazon parcel!

Determined to reduce my own personal plastic footprint, I decided to equip my home with a few solutions to reduce my SUP footprint:

  • A tea strainer – I have converted to loose tea in a beautiful metal tea caddy
  • Bamboo toothbrushes
  • Organic cotton veg. bags for the farmer’s market where I now buy my veg
  • Organic cotton dishcloths and wooden scrubbing brush
  • Wax wraps for food in the fridge
  • A set of Kilner jars for storing dry food from zero waste shop

I ordered all of these from Amazon and they arrived in huge cardboard boxes, stuffed full of… yes air filled plastic pouches and wrapped in bundles of bubble wrap!

ARGHHHHH!  My SUP plastic prevention intentions felt futile!

I, as do many millions of other consumers, find Amazon’s convenience so useful! However, I read an article by Lauren Murphy of Earth 911 (North American site) which was heartening and so I am passing this on as a quick win that if we all respond will make a huge difference! Thanks Lauren!

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Those concerned about the packaging in their orders can email Amazon’s customer service team at cs-reply@amazon.comto request minimal plastic packaging inside their orders.

Customer service will add a note to your Amazon account so employees can note your packaging preference when fulfilling your Amazon orders in the future.

Here’s an example email you can use to ask Amazon to reduce waste in your orders:

Hi,

My name is _________. The email address attached to my Amazon account is __________.

I’m requesting that Amazon use minimal packaging in all of my future orders. Please note on my account to avoid plastic packaging like bubble wrap and plastic air pillows when fulfilling my orders.

Thank you!

Amazon will respond within a day of receiving your message to let you know they’ve added a note to your account.

It’s important to keep an eye on your orders following this change to ensure that Amazon is, in fact, limiting packaging. Even with a note on your account, the packaging is ultimately up to individual warehouses and packers.

After each order, take note of what was inside your Amazon package. Was the box too large, leaving empty space and wasteful fillers?

Whether you see an improvement or there was still too much plastic, let Amazon know how they’re doing. By providing feedback, you can help ensure that they heed your request or, better yet, change their processes to reduce unnecessary packaging for all. Satisfying customers is their goal, after all.

The company says they have developed a software program to determine the appropriately sized packaging for any given item to be shipped to a customer, based on the item’s dimensions and weight.

“As a result, the number of packages shipped with excess packaging has decreased dramatically,” Amazon’s customer service team told Earth911. “In fact, many of our items are being shipped in no-air packaging, meaning the packaging is small enough to enclose the items securely using the least amount of materials possible.”

Amazon also lists products with “frustration-free packaging.” Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging is recyclable and often comes without excess packaging materials. Look for items certified as “frustration-free” in the title or item description box.

By asking Amazon to avoid excess packaging in your orders and opting for Certified Frustration-Free Packaging, you can help reduce your Amazon shipping waste significantly.”

I am going to try the same where I shop with other online retailers. Do you shop with other online retailers? Let them know about your preferences for less packaging, too!

This is an easy win behaviour change which will make a real difference to reducing SUP.

Please share and like if you take action and email Amazon – thanks!