Like many, you probably shop online. Amazon.com is the world’s largest retailer and is synonymous with online shopping. 44% of online shoppers in the U.S. turn to Amazon as their first stop. In 2014, we first dug into the company’s record on environmental and social responsibility and found Amazon.com to be performing poorly across the board–from dirty energy to worker exploitation.
Choosing to spend money wisely, in ways that support our value, can have a major impact. This year, if you are shopping online, consider one of these alternatives.
Greener Options than Amazon
Amazon’s Sustainability Record:
Amazon uses huge amounts of electricity and most of the company’s energy comes from coal-fired power plants. In 2015, in response to mounting public pressure, including our Build A Cleaner Cloud campaign, Amazon’s hosting company, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it would invest in both solar and wind energy projects. As these projects come online, AWS will be able to use greater amounts of renewable energy to power its massive network of data centers, which currently run on a steady diet of mostly fossil fuels. The company has committed to move to 100% renewable energy, however, it has yet to announce a deadline for this goal. Amazon is also still stalling in terms of transparency, refusing to report its energy usage to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
The New York Times’ explosive expose on Amazon’s white-collar workers revealed that while employees at Amazon’s Headquarters may earn a great deal, they are often subjected to a ruthless working environment. Current and former employees conveyed tales of working for four days without sleeping, developing ulcers from stress, never seeing their families, even being fired for having cancer or a miscarriage and needing time to recover. Beyond the individuals working at Amazon’s HQ in Seattle, a massive global network of people support Amazon’s operations around the word as contractors and temporary workers. Workers in Amazon’s “Fulfillment Centers” (warehouses) have been found to work non-stop on their feet in non-air conditioned buildings. These same workers are now being forced to sign 18-month non-compete agreements, which prevent them from finding other similar work, should they be let go. The author Simon Head concluded when it comes to labor practices, “Amazon is worse than Walmart.”
Like many corporate behemoths, Amazon has a history of shielding profits overseas, and for years, it fought against charging sales tax on its products. These are just two ways that the Amazon has benefited against brick and mortar companies and small businesses. Just last week, after years of under-cutting the prices of independent, local book stores and driving many out of business, Amazon announced its first ever brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. This may seem like an odd move for an online company, but then again, as the movement for buying local is growing in the US, and as Amazon faces much less competition in the bookstore business thanks to its own success at selling books online, it’s actually a no-brainer. The Huffington Post shares more about Amazon’s ironic move and its history of undercutting other business.