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How Giving Up Amazon Prime Shipping Can Save The Planet

The impact and consequences of express shipping on the environment


What's going on?

Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service that provides Amazon’s customers with a variety of Amazon compliments, deals, and discounts. The biggest perk is without a doubt, its free one or two-day shipping that reduces the waiting time for up to 100 million items to only two business days after they ship. For many Americans, Prime shipping has become a way of life; Amazon has even provided its customers with the choice to opt for same-day delivery, which allows eligible orders to reach before 9 pm.


However, it would be impossible for these perks to come without an environmental cost. According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Amazon is responsible for producing 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every year, about the same as Norway. Amazon’s reliance on aircraft, which is one of the most carbon-intensive ways to ship products to make speedy deliveries, is the major contributor to this outcome. To make the situation worse, most customers also take advantage of the lenient or free return policy that many companies have, which multiplies the distance traveled by vehicles.


Despite Amazon’s climate pledge of net zero-carbon emissions by 2040, sustainable and efficient delivery is hard to achieve because of the frequency of Amazon’s customer’s shopping behavior. Although benefits like one-day delivery have proven to benefit those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the environmental impact should be taken into consideration, and regular customers can instead not succumb to the need for express delivery. This, of course, will improve but not fix the issue at hand until drastic structural changes take place at Amazon to prevent unnecessary waste of resources.


Would you give up Amazon Prime shipping to save the planet?