When you think of Amazon, the terms “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” aren’t the first descriptions that comes to mind. More likely, you think of words like convenient, cheap, and fast shipping. In this post, I address the question, can you do sustainable shopping on Amazon?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links
Lots of people don’t like to support Amazon because of the questionable treatment of their workers, but I would argue that any global corporation doesn’t treat its workers well, and any mass production of products isn’t good for the environment. For better or for worse, much of the world’s population does shop on Amazon so I think it’s important to discuss how we can be more conscious and sustainable consumers online, and the same applies for when you shop in person. It’s up to you to decide which companies you support, but I thought I’d share some items I’ve purchased from Amazon over the years that I think are great sustainable options.
Some disclaimers: I don’t have Amazon Prime; I think it encourages people to spend too much on things they don’t need. Instead, I shop on the marketplace from small retailers based in the U.K./EU and I like to buy items second-hand like books and DVDs. When I buy direct from Amazon, I wait until I have enough items to qualify for free shipping and I do my best to pick items that will come in one order. Sometimes that means removing an item from my cart!
For more tips on shopping low waste on Amazon globally, check out Mama Eco’s blog and Shelbizleee’s video. You can email customer service to ask them to put a note on your account to package your items in minimal plastic. I haven’t done this because my Amazon direct purchases come mainly in cardboard with paper tape, and Amazon doesn’t re-package items from marketplace retailers if they’re already in plastic. You can also shop the “frustration free packaging” section.
What can you buy on Amazon that is a sustainable option?
Bamboo steamer: When I was living in college accommodation during my PhD, I decided to order a bamboo two-tiered steamer. It’s great for steaming veg, or cooking things like dumplings. I’ve had it for about 6 years and it’s still in great condition; it’s also super easy to clean! Steaming food is a much healthier choice than boiling or frying so I’d recommend a bamboo steamer.
Mooncup: I don’t think I need to go into this too much. If you use a menstrual cup, you know. If you still use disposable period products do yourself and the environment a favour and consider switching. I’ve had mine since 2012 and it’s still great.
Solar charger: I mentioned this in my 🎄Christmas Gift Guide – 2018 🎄. Anything that’s solar chargeable I find very cool. Certainly from an energy perspective, this product is more sustainable. I can’t however give any insight on the company or production practices.
Fan pad for computer: This little plastic stand saved my laptop. I have a 17″ Dell laptop and a few months after I bought it I noticed it would overheat (and that was using it as a desktop). This is a USB fan and it raises your computer just slightly and significantly helps cool it down. I’m sure it’s extended the life of my now very tired computer. Mine is unavailable, but here are similar products.
Silicone nipple covers: Definitely not a necessity, haha! But, if you like to wear outfits with no bra, or have certain shirts that are too “nipply”, a pair of reusable nipple covers is a more sustainable option that buying the single use ones. I’ve had a pair for a couple of years and they still stick and do the job!
Hand blender: I’ve cooked almost all of my own meals since I moved out of my parents’ house. One of my favourite things to make is soup. You can buy loose veg and make any kind of soup you want! It’s a great gadget to have in your kitchen.
Halicare Facial Cleansing Brush: Again, definitely not a necessity. If you are into your skincare and want a long-lasting (a.k.a. I just charged mine after having it for 2 years) facial massager then this is a great option. I don’t buy face cleansers anymore to reduce my consumption and plastic waste. This guy cleans well with some soap and gives an equally nice cleanse as any bottled scrub. Check out my full review here.
Wax wraps: Wax wraps are the sustainable solution to cling film. You can get beeswax and vegan wax wraps all over the place now, and you can make them yourself. But, if you are looking at some zero waste shops’ websites for items, it might be worth seeing if they sell through Amazon, purely from a convenience standpoint; it saved me money on shipping.
Silicone bottle brush: If you have a reusable water bottle (if you don’t, then get one!) then you know they can be a pain to clean. I got my silicone dish brush a while back and it cleans our bottles and glasses so well! Also great for cleaning out old jars to reuse them.
Magic cloth: This is similar to the Halicare facial massager in that it cleanses my face without the need for additional products. I will never buy a disposable makeup removing wipe again! This cloth does in fact work better than a flannel, and it removes my foundation and eye makeup without scrubbing. I just wash it with my clothes once a week and it’s as good as new. Read my review here.
Silicone bags: We don’t like to use plastic freezer bags anymore, but we still need to store things like chicken, leftovers, frozen beans, prepped meals etc. These silicone freezer bags keep food from getting freezer burnt and are easy to clean. They also take up less room than Tupperware and I can avoid the risk of breaking from using a glass jar to freeze food.
I’ve certainly bought many not eco-friendly products from Amazon over the years; some have been disappointing and others I love and still use. Whatever you choose to buy, make sure you do your research and look at reviews (be wary of fake reviews) to ensure you get a good product, and try to get items shipped from your region. Opt for quality over quantity, and only get things that you actually need and are going to use for years to come.
Do you think it’s possible to do sustainable shopping on Amazon? If so, what is one item you love that you’d consider a sustainable option?