Shopping on Amazon isn't considered the most earth-friendly way to shop but let's be honest: for the vast majority of individuals (in America and many other nations), Amazon is a fact of life. Since this mega conglomerate isn't going anywhere any time soon, we might as well learn how to live with it and navigate it as sustainably as possible.
I confess: I am a habitual amazon shopper. It takes extra effort for me to remember to shop elsewhere. In fact, the only reason I sometimes endeavor to explore what other options are available to me is because I use Rakuten which offers me put 10-40% cashback on stores like Walmart, Target, Sephora, etc. That incentive is motivation enough to pause my mindless 'buy with 1 click' Amazon habit.
I've lately been considering ways I can shop more sustainably on Amazon. This includes things like purchasing from stores that demonstrate earth-friendly manufacturing and shipping habits, and stores that manufacture plastic-free products and also ship without plastic packaging - a practice that Amazon, the largest corporation on the planet, needs to immediately adopt!
Before I share some of the sustainable products and stores currently on Amazon that you should check out, here are just a few things you can do today to help decrease your Amazon carbon footprint:
Click the 'Climate Pledge' Friendly box and filter your searches that way
Some of the companies that are shown in the 'climate pledge' list are certainly participating in green-washing, but I like using this feature because I am able to see smaller brands that are perhaps less popular than the mega brands we're often presented with. I'm also able find manufacturers that supply their products in metal, glass, and otherwise non-plastic containers.
Ask Amazon to ship to you in plastic-free packaging
You'll have to manually talk to customer service and request this through Amazon chat with a human. You can ask them to make a note in your account that you want your products shipped plastic-free or with as little plastic as possible. It's not 100% foolproof, but some of your products will come in plastic-free packaging.
Try Amazon frustration-free packaging - this lets you receive packages that are shipped without additional Amazon packaging. They're often shipped more sustainably and made of recyclable packing materials that are easier to open.
This doesn't mean that it's completely wonderful for the earth, but perfection isn't the goal here, little changes that snowball into global change is what we're shooting for.
Buy from Amazon Warehouse more often - this allows you to shop for many items that are considered 'used' simply because the package is a little damaged, even though the product itself is in completely perfect working condition.
If shopping on your amazon app, simply scroll down past the 'buy new' icon and you'll be presented with a warehouse deal that could save a ton of money over time by choosing a used item in really good condition.
Choose the regular shipping instead of the next day or 2-day delivery. Yes it's very hard now that we're all used to getting orders delivered shortly after clicking the 'buy' button. But, if you choose this option, you'll decrease the amount of trips UPS or any other Amazon delivery service makes to your place, and maybe grow your 'delayed gratification' muscles 💪🏾 in the process.
Okay, without further ado, here are just a few of my favorite sustainable finds on Jeff Bezos' multi-billion dollar wallet (that's Amazon):
Reusable mesh bags for bulk produce - microplastics are literally in our blood, lung tissue, and...human placentas. Which means our babies are being born with plastic already a part of them...terrifying! Whatever we can do to reduce our single-use plastics would help decrease our dependence on this pollutive substance. I like these small bags for buying bulk produce like nuts, grains, and seeds without having to pull from that roll of single use plastic bags they offer in the store.
100% cotton reusable and washable shopping bags - any reusable bag you choose (even if you're reusing a plastic bag) is better for the environment, but if you want to make an even greater switch, consider this reusable bag made from non-synthetic material. This comes in a 5 pack and I'm certain it can handle your most epic Costco shopping trip.
Natural bamboo brush set for cleaning dishes - reduce the amount of bioplastics that go down your kitchen sink by using these natural brushes made from renewable bamboo and coconut fibers. Options abound, but I really like that this set comes with a tiny brush for cleaning straws and other difficult to reach angles.
Dropps dishwasher detergent pods - if you're an African parent and you have a dishwasher, then for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE retire your children as dishwashers and use the freaking appliance! Okay, rant over. Dishwashers use way less water than handwashing in the sink and these dishwashing pods certainly do the job. I promise, you won't miss the conventional, planet-polluting detergent pods.
Solid Dish Soap - if you're trying to skip the plastic completely when handwashing, go for solid instead of liquid soap which often comes in plastic bottles. You have more than one option when shopping for this product on Amazon. I'm also sure you can find someone on YouTube offering a tutorial on how to make your own if you're in the DIY spirit.
Swedish dish cloths - these compostable cellulose sponges are great for washing dishes and cleaning up spills. They can take up to 20 times their own weight of water and can be put in the dishwasher or washing machine. So, skip the plastic and paper and switch to this biodegradable alternative.
Compostable dinner plates - these plates are microwave safe and oven safe up to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) and are completely plastic free! Since they're made from fallen palm leaves, these plates do not contribute to deforestation and are naturally biodegradable. These plates are hard and durable enough to be used for events, maybe for your next holiday dinner?
Compostic resealable bags and cling wrap. The nice thing about these products is that they're compostable AT HOME. So no need for a commercial composter. According to the manufacturer, they break down into CO2, water, and biomass which are non-toxic to the environment.
Biodegradable dental floss that is non-toxic and made with plant-based material. Traditional dental floss is made with plastic handles that are single use and non-recyclable. They often end up in our oceans and in the bellies of marine life. Make a positive change today by switching to this product.
Bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles - I am recommending these with the caveat that nylon is still a type of plastic, although most recycling centers accept it. I've yet to find a great toothbrush that doesn't use any plastic but at least with this product, we can decrease our climate footprint by using a toothbrush that's partly recyclable and partly biodegradable.
Toilet bowl cleaner tablets - I love tablets and powders and basically any cleaning solution that isn't liquid because they're usually more concentrated which gives you more bang for your buck. These climate neutral tablets have good reviews on Amazon and are shipped without plastic packaging.
Bathroom cleaner tablets - once again, these ultra concentrated tablets can be dropped into 24 oz of water and voila...you have your very own cleaning spray! You can also opt for a cleaning powder that foams as soon as it hits water. Either way, you're choosing a more planet-friendly cleaning product.
Dropps laundry detergent pods - I love Dropps because they've handled all the musty, sweaty, stained scrubs and gym clothes I've thrown at them. They've even thoroughly cleaned my period panties. I have a recurring subscription with them because it's affordable and effective cleaning with low waste packaging. They're also climate pledge certified. What else do you need?
Plastic-free laundry detergent sheets - I love that these are shipped in recyclable packaging. Another benefit with laundry sheets is that they're great for packing up for travel. Just fit a few sheets in your luggage and you're good to go for laundry on the road. There are so many options available now on Amazon which makes my heart happy.
Natural Soap Nuts - I used these for years and have no complaints about them. Did you know these could also be used as a natural shampoo and body wash? Yup! Nature really supplies all we need, which is why we should refrain from completely destroying our planet. These nuts (hehe) are apparently picked from the base of Himalayan mountains...so next time someone asks you why your laundry smells so good, you can tell them it's because "you're a playa from the Himalayas"
Wool dryer balls that you can reuse again and again. Now, PETA would kill me for this but, hear me out! I know the wool industry is not exactly the greatest in the world but this company is climate pledge friendly and they employ women and minorities in Nepal, China, and the USA. Can the way we treat sheep grown for their wool improve? Certainly! But while we await that glorious day, this product can help decrease the pollution from the plastic dryer sheets we use and discard.
This is just a short list to get you started on sustainable or 'better for the planet' products you could find on Amazon. My hope is that if we all start making such choices, companies will begin to take notice and actually modify their manufacturing processes to be more planet friendly and also offer more products that are zero-waste.
Remember, the goal is not perfection, just little changes that will later snowball into big changes. Do the very best that you can, whenever you can, and encourage others to do the same; that's how we make positive changes for our planet.
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