Why NOT to Shop on Amazon
Let’s be honest – Amazon is convenient, maybe the most convenient shopping option we have today. But convenience comes at a cost! Whenever possible, we recommend avoiding Amazon and other retail-giants that rack up millions of dollars in sales each year while generating tons of waste and emissions with essentially no regard for the environment or people.
Below are some of our favorite reasons to avoid Amazon:
Regular Tax Avoider
Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, and yet has a history of tax avoidance. The company avoided over $5 billion in federal taxes in 2021 (ITEP).
It’s important to note this is NOT just an Amazon problem! Our policies and tax laws are allowing many mega-corporations to get away with billions of dollars of tax avoidance (American Progress). Imagine what our country could do for our climate with that money! This is a policy change we need to continue to push back on as climate activists.
Workplace Safety Violations
Amazon has had regular issues with workplace safety. The company has been cited six times in 2023 by OSHA for “not providing safe workplaces” in the United States (U.S. DOL). Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health for OSHA, Doug Parker, said, “Amazon’s operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” (U.S. DOL).
According UNI Global Union, over the last three years, 14 Amazon warehouses in Britain had 600 ambulance calls. Over half of these calls resulted in a hospital visit. These are some scary numbers!
The company’s high-pressure labor model is likely a huge factor in these workplace safety issues. High levels of productivity monitoring at fulfillment and distribution centers lead workers to work 10+ hour shifts, skip breaks, urinate in bottles, and injure themselves trying to complete tasks, according to various worker reports (U.K. TUC).
Illegal Anti-Union Actions
Amazon has been known for illegal anti-union actions, along with many other mega-corporations. Earlier this year, Amazon was charged for illegally threatening to withhold wage and benefit increases from warehouse employees engaging in unionization (NY Times). Rumors of other anti-union actions are common but are often covered up.
Overproduction + Waste
Amazon is extremely wasteful. In an effort to be a top retailer, Amazon sells over 12 million products. This amount of inventory combined with its fast-paced business model leads to excessive waste.
An investigation by ITV News has found that it's common for roughly 130,000 items to be marked “destroy” in just one week at a UK warehouse. ITV News interviewed an ex-Amazon employee about the waste:
"From a Friday to a Friday our target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week. I used to gasp... There's no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed: Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook and iPad; the other day, 20,000 Covid (face) masks still in their wrappers... Overall, 50 percent of all items are unopened and still in their shrink wrap. The other half are returns and in good condition. Staff have just become numb to what they are being asked to do."
Imagine our landfills filling up with unused products that last hundreds of years. This news is devastating, and Amazon has A LOT of work to do to meet their 2040 climate goals - we won't believe it until we see it.
Hurts Small, Local Businesses
Supporting retail-giants like Amazon hurts small, local businesses. When we support these companies, we are often neglecting our local makers and stores. Especially this holiday season, when purchasing gifts for others, consider shopping local instead – check with your local makers, refilleries, bookstores, and locally-owned convenience and hardware stores first. We carry products from dozens of local makers and businesses, all of which would make great gifts!
If you can't find what you need locally, consider online alternatives. The Good Trade has a list of 10 Amazon Alternatives you can check out to avoid Amazon.
It can be tough to avoid Amazon – and sometimes more expensive. Sustainable shopping looks different for everyone, and we are not here to judge! You do what works for you, but don’t fall into the trap of trendy items, discounts, and the pressure of gifting. Just do your best to be mindful of how you’re shopping this season (and every season!).
Sources & More
Amazon: Annual Reports, Proxies, and Shareholder Letters (2021, 2022)
Ethical Consumer: Ten Reasons to Avoid Amazon
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP): Amazon Avoids More Than $5 Billion in Corporate Income Taxes…
New York Times (NY Times): Judge Finds Amazon Broke Labor Law in Anti-Union Effort
The Good Trade: 10 Amazon Alternatives For Sustainable Online Shopping (2023)
U.K. Trades Union Congress (U.K. TUC): Challenging Amazon Report
U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL): US Department of Labor Finds Amazon Exposed Workers to Unsafe Conditions...
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA): Green Your Holiday Scene, EPA Archives