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Dear Recycling Bins: Staying Green When Ordering Online

Dear Recycling Bins: Staying Green When Ordering Online

Dear Recycling Bins: Our Recycling Advice Column

Dear Recycling Bins,

Though the lockdown is easing, the family and I are still concerned about the prospect of physically going to some shops, and this plus the extra time we’ve been spending at home (and yes, the boredom!) has meant that we’ve been shopping online a lot, mostly with Amazon.

It’s so convenient, but I am concerned about the amount of packaging waste that it’s generating. I was sent a small item and it came wrapped in brown paper, bubble wrap, and they shipped it in a box that was much too large.

How can I make reduce packaging waste when I shop online?

Shopping Online

Thank you for your question.

Well, there’s no denying that shopping with Amazon is convenient, but this can come at a big cost to the environment. One of the biggest problems with many delivery companies, not just Amazon, is the amount of excess packaging they send goods in.

While they have to make sure that goods are protected, sometimes the bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and brown paper is overkill.

Plastic packaging is a particular problem with online deliveries. Much of it is single-use and not accepted for household recycling in many areas, so it’s thrown away and sent to landfill where it can take hundreds of years to degrade. In the meantime, toxins will be leaching into the soil and waterways, and the plastics will be causing harm to animals that get trapped in them or mistake them for food.

So there’s no getting away from it, excess packaging waste is a major issue, but like many issues, we can do something about it. The next time you shop at Amazon try:

Asking for less packaging

Email or speak to someone at customer services and request that excess packaging is not added to your orders. While there’s no guarantee that this will happen, if there’s enough pressure from consumers, things can change.

Opt for frustration-free packaging

Did you know that some Amazon products can be sent in ‘frustration-free’ packaging? You can search for this term when you are shopping for products. This means that your products won’t come in anything that’s difficult to unravel like wire ties or impenetrable shrink wrap. Instead, they’ll come in easy to open recyclable packaging.

Try the Amazon Warehouse

Amazon Warehouse is full of pre-loved or refurbished items which means less waste and you save money!

Amazon Warehouse

Ask yourself if you really need that fast delivery

Amazon is known for its superfast delivery, but ask yourself, do you really need it? Shipping goods so fast is convenient for you as a customer, but it also uses a lot of extra resources. If you are ordering multiple items, ask for them to be shipped in as few packages as possible at the checkout.

Reuse and recycle packaging where possible

If you still end up with a lot of packaging, recycle and reuse it where you can. Use bubble wrap, brown paper, and boxes for storage or when you’re posting items yourself, and put what you can in your recycling bin if you really can’t reuse it.

If you want to keep shopping with Amazon, you can take heart that the company says it is constantly working on ways to reduce waste and that it listens to customer feedback about packaging. While it acknowledges the challenge of reducing packaging waste versus making sure that goods arrive intact, the company is working with manufacturers across the globe to help them re-think their packaging and reduce waste in their supply chain.

If you are stuck when it comes to recycling Amazon packaging, devices, and products, Amazon Second Chance has plenty of guidance to hopefully help you keep it out of landfill.

We hope this helps!

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