No matter who you are and how green and local you live, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you've hit the Buy Now button on Amazon at least once or twice. I know I have. Amazon and other online shopping sites makes finding what you want or need so convenient, it's hard to resist. I'll support local shopping till the cows come home (literally here in NH), but for those times when you just need to hit Buy Now, here are five ways to lower your impact...
1. Shop Smile.Amazon.Com If you haven't switched to Amazon Smile yet, do it right now and never look back. Instead of going to "www.amazon.com", go to "smile.amazon.com". It literally changed nothing about how you shop or how much you spend, but AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (hint: choose an environmental organization!) when you shop with Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile has donated $321,230,298 to worldwide charities in the last six months.
2. Buy Refurbished Electronics Take advantage of the fact that many people think they need the latest and greatest way before their current phone, tablet, or computer needs to be upgraded, by shopping Amazon Renewed products. We have bought our last two iPhones and an iPad used from Amazon. They look and act brand new, but come without the big footprint and big price tag of a new device. You can choose cases and accessories made from recycled or sustainable materials and, when you're done with your products, you can recycle them through Amazon as well.
3. Choose Climate Friendly Pledge Products Amazon helps you locate products that are certified FSC, Energy Star, Organic, or other reputable certifications so you can find products that meet your environmental standards. Amazon now has it's own eco-friendly, carbon neutral brand, called Amazon Aware. Products are minimally packaged in recyclable and more sustainable materials Beware greenwashing, however, and don't assume something is good for the planet just because it isn't as bad as other products. Choose used and recycled first.
4. Buy Used Books, Camping Gear, Furniture, and Cooking Equipment When it comes to used stuff, you should always shop local sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist first to avoid shipping, but you may not always find what you need. Enter Amazon Warehouse. As someone who appreciates books perhaps a bit too much, I have found Amazon Warehouse's used book selection otherworldly. I have found it to be the only source for lots of cool, out of print, and unique books. You can even select how used you'd like your book ("very used" works for household reference books, "like new" is good for gifts). But it doesn't stop at books. You can find almost anything used on Amazon Warehouse, including kitchen gadgets like Instant Pots and baby gear and toys, and vacuum cleaners and tents.
5. Consolidate Your Shipments and Chill Out About Your Shipping Time Next Day Delivery might be great if you are dying from some deadly disease and need the antidote ASAP, but for most things, we can afford to wait a couple days, especially if it means our items can drive or take the boat instead of fly. Choose slower delivery options and consolidate your deliveries whenever possible to save on packaging and transportation. If you want or need something NOW, buy it local instead!
And one bonus suggestion - Don't hit Buy Now: Let your products hang out in your cart for a few days before you click "Buy". You may realize that you don't need those new shoes after all, or that you can find something equally good, if not better, locally or used. Not buying something gives you a surprising feeling of control and satisfaction. My latest purchase from Amazon was, ironically, a very used copy of The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller. I haven't read it yet, but I think it's going to rock my world... stay tuned. :)
Stay Green, New Hampshire!
PS - What should you do with your cardboard boxes? You can recycle or compost them or use them as mulch in your garden.