Amazon launched a new sustainable brand for the climate-conscious consumer: Amazon aware. All Amazon Aware products have certifications that are part of the Climate Pledge Friendly program.
The amazon’s brand new sustainable, eco-friendly range may seem great on the surface. We are accustomed to seeing labels such as “organic” and “bio” on everything as of late, so Amazon’s newest brand takes that up a notch. This gives the impression that Amazon is making great strides with its sustainability initiatives. However, it’s not as sustainable as you think. Dig deeper and you’ll see claims of climate-friendliness are problematic at best. Even more concerning is their not so shocking bleak environmental record. Amazon’s operations emitted the equivalent of 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020. This is up from Amazon’s 2019 emissions, which were 51.17 million metric tons. The company reported the increase in emissions was due to the surge in online shopping amid the pandemic.
In 2021, a new study by Pacific Environment and Stand.earth found that the internet giant is among the top ten polluters in overseas shipping, contributing to the world’s e-waste crisis, and is contributing to the destruction of millions of unsold and returned items each year, from books to hairdryers and even laptops.
How can one truly be climate friendly without considering the impacts of online shopping? When it comes to the environment, Amazon is not as sustainable as you think.
You Can’t Be Part of the Problem and the Solution
Why does Amazon care about sustainability now? Well, consumers have shown that they care—and Amazon wants their business. According to research from GlobeScan, nearly 80% of people worldwide want companies to take action on climate change. At the same time, consumer spending habits are shifting: there's a big demand for sustainable products, and people are willing to pay a premium for these items.
So it's no surprise that Amazon is paying attention. They want to tap into this need and make sure that shoppers know that they're doing it.
Amazon's claims of sustainability are rooted in greenwashing. Even worse, the brand seems to be taking advantage of the recent trend of consumers having heightened concern for the environment. The company has been criticized for claiming to be carbon neutral while buying credits from other companies that have made cuts to their carbon emissions instead of making cuts themselves. According to experts in the field, Amazon aware will not help prevent climate change and will make it worse by accelerating unsustainable practices as well as encouraging customers to buy more products than they need, which puts a strain on the environment.
Further, Amazon Aware is hypocritical at best because it seems to be a response to the growing concerns about its impact on the environment and its poor track record with treating its workers fairly.
Sustainability is not a brand gimmick
Sustainability is not a brand gimmick. It’s a commitment to do better and an acknowledgement that there’s always more to be done. We need to hold companies accountable for their actions and ask more from them than just a new ‘greenwashed’ product line.
When we talk about sustainability in the context of fashion and beauty, we have to consider the entire supply chain. After all, when fast fashion houses like Amazon sell products at low prices, they have to cut corners somewhere (often by outsourcing production to countries with laxer labor laws). And even when brands make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, it doesn't mean much if they don't change how they manufacture and source materials in the first place—otherwise known as "greenwashing."
Its not a Slow Fashion Brand
Amazon aware is not a slow fashion brand which means that they still produce more than what they can sell at a given time. On top of that, Amazon relies on their suppliers for these products instead of making them themselves so the source of these materials are still questionable. This is a common problem with E-commerce companies since they don’t have control over the suppliers and factories that produce the products sold in their platform.
Amazon claims to be working with recycled fabrics and environmentally-friendly materials, which is true. However, neither the production nor the supply chain is transparent and ethical. Amazon has been under fire for years for its lack of transparency in regards to who manufactures its products and where they are made. If sustainability is important to you, this should raise some red flags.
Amazon Aware is a band aid for Amazon's massive carbon footprint.
The online retailer is responsible for more than half of all eCommerce packages in the United States. With so many packages being delivered around the country, that adds up to a lot of gasoline being used to get those products in your hands.
Amazon Aware claims to be more sustainable because it uses less packaging and biodegradable boxes and tape. Although these are great steps towards sustainability, it does not solve the problem of unnecessary emissions from shipping products across the country or world.
Amazon has taken steps to become more eco-friendly, like eliminating single-use plastic from their packaging materials and promising to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. But still, Amazon is far from being a truly green company and they are not doing enough to offset their current carbon footprint.
Amazon’s business is driven by consumer demand and not out of a need to combat climate-change. This can be seen through Amazon’s website and emphasis on convenience and quick delivery time. These ideals are not as compatible with a sustainable mindset. We need a more sustainable business model, one that is compatible with our planet's well-being. On the one hand, Amazon aware seems to be a step in the right direction– but on the other hand it is deceiving by design. Amazon sells a lot of products that can’t be characterized as climate friendly. The actual impact of Amazon aware is small. The core of the problem are brand expectations. How could we bridge consumer expectations and business realities?
If you are looking for sustainable living, Amazon aware is not a brand that you should trust, yet.
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