How to Shop More Sustainably on Amazon
What comes to mind when you think of Amazon? Are you imagining dreamy green forest canopies in South America? Or do you think of the lighting speed, e-commerce retailer? If the latter, you're certainly not alone. Gone are the garage days of this early â90s startup. Today, Amazon is one of the world's leading companies, earning nearly $470B in annual revenue in 2021, a 21.7% increase from 2020.
It seems like there's almost nothing you can't get on Amazon. The instant gratification of 'add to cart' feels nice, and we love a package on our doorstep as much as the next person! ...But, it's not always sunshine and rainbows with online shopping. Does anyone else ever feel guilty about shopping online instead of in person? Is our guilt justified? Misplaced? The reality is that affordable prices, a huge variety of products, and quick shipping have made many of us loyal customers, especially when we have a busy calendar, or no convenient transportation options to hit the shops in person.
Let's unpack some of the nuances between online and in-person shopping and make note of the ways we can shop more sustainably because Amazon's Prime Early Access Sale (basically, another Prime Day) is happening on October 11th and 12th.
The good news? There will be lots of opportunities to choose wisely because shopping online isn't as bad as you may think! The great news? The Finch browser extension can help you make even smarter Amazon purchases. After all, that's our specialty. Let's dive in.
Here's our roundup of helpful hints
#1.Add the Finch browser extension on Chrome for sustainability scores on all of your favorite products.
#2.When shopping on Amazon, consolidate shipping, select frustration free packaging, and opt for ground, no-rush shipping.
#1. Add the Finch browser extension on Chrome.
Adding Finch's (totally free!) browser extension will give you science-backed scores on your favorite Amazon scoops across 85 product categories including shampoo, deodorant, dental floss, and so much more. Once you search for your desired product, click the Finch extension to view how we've scored the products in this category based on the impact they have across six different environmental footprints, including climate, water, waste, raw materials, ecological, and human well-being. For more detail on our scoring system, check out How We Score. When you're shopping Amazon's Prime Early Access Sale, we'll be able to tell you whether you're choosing one of the more sustainable products out there or if there's an even better option for the planet.
If you're a good friend, you'll also probably want to let your loved ones in on the feel-good Finch vibes. When they ask, 'What's Finch?', you can say, 'It's this amazing browser extension that helps me find everyday products that are actually more sustainable.'For even more help on those frequently asked questions or those wonky tech woes, view this handy FAQ we put together.
At the end of the day, to help you shop more sustainably on Amazon, Finch needs to be a Chrome browser extension, and that comes with some seemingly odd data warnings. If you've added our extension, you've likely noticed the data pop-up in the Chrome store. Unfortunately, we can't edit the language of the warning to get real about the data we collect and why. The FAQ can also help with that - get answers to all things data privacy, including what we can do, what we actually do, and what we will never do with data.
#2. Consolidate shipments, select frustration-free packaging, and opt for ground, no-rush shipping.
When it comes to online shopping vs. in person shopping, it really all depends on how you're actually doing said shopping (more on that below). Shopping online requires excess packaging, freight, and an internet connection that uses up energy. In-person shopping requires a mode of transportation, packaging, and the consumption of natural resources to keep a brick-and-mortar store up and running. All in all, there are a lot of ways you can shop on Amazon that limit your personal carbon footprint. Check out our blog The Company We Love to Hate - is it Possible to Shop on Amazon and Avoid Eco-Guilt?' to learn the tricks of the online shopping trade - things like consolidating shipments, choosing 'second chance' items, selecting frustration-free packaging, and opting for ground, no-rush shipping. Okay yes, this is a super boiled-down version of what really goes on, but for a ton more detail, you can check out our blog Online Shopping vs. In-Person Shopping: What's Better for the Environment?
Basically, we did a deep dive into the 10 different ways people typically shop and the carbon footprint associated with each. The main thing to remember is that there are trade-offs in every scenario and it really depends on the way you interact with the shopping experience. For example, the 'cybernaut' customer who browses for, purchases, and even returns their items entirely online with ground shipping has the smallest carbon footprint among the 10 shopping styles. Compare this to the 'modern impatient shopper' who goes online and travels to the store to browse, then purchases and returns online opting for air shipping. The impact of the modern shopper is almost double that of the cybernaut. But! (we love a caveat..) If you're walking to the store to shop in person, effectively eliminating the transportation and freight impact of the shopping experience, well that changes everything. To the top of the sustainable shopping list you go! Generally speaking though, shopping online and choosing the longest delivery method is likely the best option for the rest of us.
If you're already shopping on Amazon, let us insert our 'two cents' so that, together, we can find the best of the best.