Photo by Julie Clopper
Amazon is full of deals, but those deals come at a big cost to people and the planet. So, before you click on that item that sounds like a steal, check out Green America's 10 Reasons to not shop Amazon.
- Exploits workers and fights unions. Amazon has a long history of opposing unionization and most recently was accused of violating labor law during the Bessemer, Alabama Union election. NBC News reports: “Amazon illegally arranged for a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to be installed in the fulfillment center parking lot during the election. The union alleged that it gave the impression that Amazon might have had access to the secret ballots cast by workers.”
- Has double the injury rates of industry average. Recent research by the Strategic Organizing Center found that injury rates at Amazon facilities are reportedly double that of the industry average. And, Amazon workers sustained more than 24,000 serious injuries in 2020.
- Creates dangerous working conditions for delivery workers. In a recent survey by the Strategic Organizing Center, they found 49% of delivery workers reported pain or injuries that caused them to miss work. AND, 89% of injured delivery workers reported that their injuries were related to production pressure or speed.
- Facilitates the human rights crisis on the US-Mexico border. The Guardian reported that Amazon Web Services hosts the Department of Homeland Security's databases which allows "the department and its agencies to track and apprehend immigrants." Additionally, Amazon’s technology is being used to denaturalize US citizens, as reported by Gizmodo.
- Is a major climate emitter. Amazon’s climate emissions are similar to Denmark’s and grew 19% in 2020 at a time when global emissions fell. Green America’s Build a Cleaner Cloud campaign has been pushing Amazon for years to use clean energy to power its web hosting services, one of the biggest cloud storage hosts on the internet, and gotten Amazon to finally commit to 100% renewable energy by 2025. The Center for Biological Diversity’s “Amazon Shine” campaign pushes Amazon to use solar energy to power its warehouses for the good of wildlife habitats. But, Amazon has a long way to go to get to zero emissions.
- Creates excessive packaging waste. A report from Oceana found that in 2019, Amazon generated 465 million pounds of plastic waste. This is “enough to circle the earth over a hundred times in the form of air pillows.”
- Has allegedly engaged in price fixing of e-books. A law firm has filed a class action lawsuit claiming that Amazon, along with five major publishers, have kept the price of e-books artificially high.
- Penalizes small businesses that use its platforms. The Sun magazine did a feature interview with author Stacy Mitchell on how Amazon undermines local economies and is bad for small businesses. The Wall Street Journal documented Amazon using the data from 3rd party sellers to create its own products, and the House Subcommittee on Antitrust founds that Amazon has monopoly power over small and medium sized businesses.
- Fights tax laws that would support local economies. In 2018, Amazon faced scrutiny when it paid zero dollars in federal income taxes on its $11 billion profits and even received $129 million in tax rebates. The USA Today documented how Amazon raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a faux grassroots campaign called “No Tax on Jobs” in Seattle. Though in 2020, Seattle passed the “Jumpstart Seattle” tax, which increases payroll taxes on the biggest businesses, including Amazon.
- Raked in billions in taxpayer subsidies for its new headquarters buildings in Virginia, despite being worth over $1 trillion. Investigators at The Intercept reported that Amazon’s “HQ2” will cost Virginia taxpayers $4.6 billion, twice as much as the company stated. The Washington Post reported it would cost taxpayers $2.5 billion, but that still means one of the world’s most valuable companies is tapping taxpayers’ money to build a headquarters that will create a lot of negative impacts for local residents.
What You Can Do
- While Amazon makes it so easy to shop on its site, if you resist the urge to engage in one-click shopping and instead shop directly with a local green business, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting your local economy and get to meet business owners and employees who share your values.
- Try shopping online directly from green businesses in our Green Pages – with hundreds of businesses and thousands of products to choose from.
- Check out our Sustainable Alternatives to Amazon.
You’ll wind up being more intentional about your spending, and more likely only purchase what you need, and you’ll be directly supporting the green economy.