How to Order Eco-Friendly on Amazon

How to Order Eco-Friendly on Amazon

While ordering from Amazon isn’t the most eco-friendly option out there, sometimes it just might need to be done in order to get an item that will reduce the overall environmental impact in the long run. When other options aren’t available, this post will show you how to order eco-friendly on Amazon.


To Shop Amazon or Not

With their low prices, easy shopping experience, and free shipping, Amazon has changed the way many people shop. And with their record setting sales on Prime Day in 2018 even despite the system crashing, it seems like Amazon is here to stay (at least for now). But for all its ease and accessibility, this new online shopping addiction comes with a very hefty price.

There are many reason to not support this behemoth corporation. For years now, we have been hearing stories about the horrendous conditions that Amazon employees deal with as well as the substandard pay they receive.

And if those aren’t reason enough, Amazon shopping for all it’s wonderful convenience is a nightmare for our environment. Due to Prime membership (and Prime Now) and the incredible speed at which customers can receive their items, this has caused more vehicle congestion (i.e. carbon emissions), unconsolidated packaging (i.e. more plastic packaging and cardboard boxes), and consumers buying more low ticket items (i.e. disposable items that get thrown away).

But the problems many of us face when trying to ban Amazon from our lives are those same lower prices, accessibility, and brand diversity. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, saving $20 dollars from buying on Amazon instead of at your local store can be the difference between paying your electric bill on time or not. Likewise, some items just aren’t available locally or second-hand.

When the options are there to buy locally or from a zero waste company, please support your community or a company with better business practices. But when they are really the best option, there are ways to shop eco-friendly on Amazon that will reduce the environmental impact it creates.

Tips for Eco-Friendly Orders on Amazon

Tip #1 : Frustration-free Packaging

Use the Frustration Free Packaging service whenever it is available. This service is eligible on certain items and is meant to reduce the overall packaging materials used. Items that have this service are shipped in “its own packaging without the need for additional Amazon packaging”. They use 100% curbside recyclable materials and no plastic clamshells or wire ties.

The only real downside to this service is that it is only available on select items. However, to utilize this service you either can search for “frustration-free package (item/category)” or by department and then search for frustration-free packaging, tick the box in “packaging options” in the filter bar on the left side, or when you click on the item you’ll see boxes right under the price for standard packaging or frustration-free packaging.

To utilize this service you either can search for “frustration-free package (item/category)” or by department and then search for frustration-free packaging.
top: In search bar type frustration-free packaging and then the type of item (in this case “toys”)
bottom: or by department type frustration-free packaging
Tick the box in “packaging options” in the filter bar on the left side, or when you click on the item you’ll see boxes right under the price for standard packaging or frustration-free packaging.
Here are the two places you will see the option for choosing frustration free packaging.

Tip #2 : Group Items Together

Consolidate or group your packages into as few boxes as possible. Sure, this might mean you won’t be able to utilize your Prime membership sometimes but unless you absolutely need your items in one or two days, this will be much better for the environment for a few reasons.

  1. By putting everything in one or fewer packages means less waste.
  2. The carbon emissions used by the trucks and planes to ship the package to you will be reduced since less packages are being sent separately.

This means less fossil fuels used so less of a carbon footprint being made by Amazon and thus less of a carbon footprint made by you, indirectly, since you chose to do this. When you go for the quickest shipping this puts more half-full trucks and planes on the road to get your items to you on time. If you choose to wait a little longer using this shipping option that means Amazon can pack the shipping vehicles to capacity and more efficiently using less resources overall. Plus, you get other incentives when you use this option so this might save you money too.

Choose No-Rush Shipping on your orders. Just like consolidating your packages, this means you will have to wait a little longer to receive your items but this also significantly decreases Amazon’s and your carbon footprint.

Update 1-23-20: It appears that Amazon phased out the No-Rush Shipping option. Now you can choose Free Amazon Day Delivery. It should state underneath that “we’ll deliver your orders together”.

At the checkout screen tick the box that says “FREE Amazon Day Delivery”. It should state underneath that those orders will be delivered together.
Do not choose the “Ship in Amazon packaging” button.

Tip #3 Amazon Warehouse

Another less well known service that Amazon provides is Amazon Warehouse. This satellite business is for shoppers looking to save money by purchasing used items at reduced prices. These items are treated just like new products in that they are backed by the same 30-day return policy.

You will see listing conditions on items that vary from Used – Like New to Used – Acceptable. The degree of damage to the product varies depending on who was inspecting it but this is a way to shop second-hand and save money especially if you don’t have any thrift stores or consignment shops near you.

To look for used items on Amazon, just select Amazon Warehouse in your department dropdown box and type the product or type of item you are looking for. You can even type in frustration-free packaging and find items that include that service as well!

In the search bar click on the department and choose Amazon Warehouse. Type in the item or category. Alternatively, you can use the left side bar to choose your category as well. 
You can even look for frustration free packaging!
In the search bar click on the department and choose Amazon Warehouse. Type in the item or category. Alternatively, you can use the left side bar to choose your category as well.
You can even look for frustration free packaging!

Tip #4 : Contact Customer Support

Update 1-23-20: The Contact Us page has changed. There is only the options to chat or call.

Get in touch with Amazon customer support and let them know that you would like minimal and plastic-free packaging on all your orders.

There are two ways to do this. Either you can email customer support at cs-reply@amazon.com or log into your account and go to contact us. In contact us, click the button Prime or Something Else. In the “Tell us more” dropdown boxes make selections that get you to the “Or, talk to Someone” where you can either call or chat with a representative.

In contact us, click the button Prime or Something Else. In the “Tell us more” dropdown boxes make selections that get you to the “Or, talk to Someone” where you can either call or chat with a representative.
Screenshot of Contact Us page

If you choose to email Amazon, use the email associated with your account. Simply put the first and last name and email address on the account and a brief statement like:

I would like to request that all of my Amazon orders be packed with minimal, plastic-free packaging. Please make a note on my account to avoid bubble wrap, styrofoam, and plastic padding when fulfilling my orders. Thank you.”

It may take them a couple of days to get back to you but you will receive an email stating that they have made a note in your account.

If you opt to do the call or chat, just tell them the same thing. I personally preferred this approach. A representative got to me very quickly. And they let me know that they added a note to my account.

If you still get plastic packaging…

This isn’t a perfect solution and sometimes you will still receive plastic bubble wrap or other packaging you didn’t want. If you do get some unwanted plastic packaging, there are options for you to be able to recycle it. Either go to How2Recycle, Earth911, or Keep America Beautiful and use their locator to find a place that accepts that type of plastic (you might be surprised how close a recycling service is to you). Or you can simply take it to a store that does plastic bag recycling (usually located at the front doors).

But before you drop it off, please make sure that it is either high-density polyethylene (HDPE or #2 plastic) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE or #4 plastic), you pop out all the air, and that it is clean and dry (please use soap as any residue will contaminate the entire bin).  

If you would like to know more about what you can recycle besides plastic bags at these shops, Recycle Coach has a great post that goes over what and how to recycle these types of plastics. Just please keep in mind that recycling should be a last resort, not a first or only option. It’s really best to avoid the plastic packaging all together.

Tip #5 : Feedback

After working in food service and retail for years, I’ve seen the importance of feedback. If you get excessive plastic packaging on an order, let the retailer or Amazon know. Alternatively, if you get a package without the plastic, let them know that too!

This feedback is really helpful. It lets retailers know that customers want options that are more sustainable and eco-friendly on Amazon. If enough people did this, it might change the standards that Amazon and other sellers use to be more carbon-neutral.

You can leave feedback for Amazon through the same contact us page mentioned earlier or through your “Orders” if it is another seller.


So have you tried using any of these options before? How did they work out for you?

If you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!

Are you looking for other ways to reduce your carbon footprint? You might want to check out my list of online zero waste shops in the US or internationally.

Want to see what I’m about?

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Happy (Smart) Shopping!

Or if you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!



6 thoughts on “How to Order Eco-Friendly on Amazon”

  • Would of never known that you can get used products as well on amazon i always thought ebay was the only way to get second hand products , i guess it pays to do research on all aspects of a product to better understand the system i liked the topic in all it wasnt overlly hard to read or comprehend , found information i didnt know before thanks for that. i liked the way the article was layed out as a whole , i would say the only thing i noticed about the performance was the big photos at the beginning i had to scroll through and there are no links attaching these images to anything. all in all a good article and i look forward to seeing more from this site.

    • Hi! Thank you for taking the time to leave me some feedback on this post.

      I’m glad there was some useful information for you. I wanted to make this as easy to read as possible and give pictures to show where the options were for frustration-free packaging as I never noticed them before until doing my research on it. 

      As far as linking the pictures, I will go ahead and change that. My apologies if you were having trouble viewing them.

      Thanks again! I appreciate it. I’m glad you liked the post.

      Tina

  • Thanks for this amazing guide! I’m always shopping on Amazon as it’s my favorite online store due to their 30 day return policy and absolutely fast shipping! I’ve never actually heard of Amazon Warehouse but it seems like a no brainer. I’m always looking for reduced prices to save a few bucks here and there. I’ll take a look and see what I can find! Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Brandon! Thanks so much for leaving me some feedback on my post.

      I’m glad I could point you towards Amazon Warehouse. It’s a great way to save money and help the environment by buying perfectly good second-hand stuff.

      I understand the desire to get things as fast as possible and in some cases, you need something very quickly. However, for the things that aren’t dire, I hope you consider consolidating your packages and opting for No-Rush Shipping. It will really help in a big way.

      Thanks again for reading my post! I’m glad you like it.

      Tina

  • Thanks so much for these tips on how to order on Amazon the green way. I actually didn’t know a lot of these options existed. I sometimes think when I get my Amazon packages “Yikes! So many boxes and plastic.” So now I have some good ideas of how to reduce that. 

    One thing I always do is try to ship my items in as few boxes as possible. I really don’t want all the boxes and i don’t mind waiting a little longer for them to put it all together. 

    I do hope they come up with some better shipping options in the future. I don’t think Amazon is going anywhere anytime soon so it would be good to have greener solutions down the line. 

    • Hi Christina! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.

      I agree. Amazon really does need to come out with more sustainable options but I think frustration-free packaging was an attempt to be more environmentally mindful. My only complaint about it so far is they need to make more items with this option. When I was searching on it, I found it to be very limited.

      Still, all in all, it’s a start.

      Thanks again! I’m glad you liked the post.

      Tina

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