Published Monday, December 20, 2021 at 11:53 am
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Dear EarthTalk: Is Amazon.com an environmentally friendly hero or villain
– J. West, Orange CA
Amazon.com’s environmental performance is mixed, it is not surprising. Amazon.com’s environmental performance is mixed. Critics charge that Amazon’s low pricing and expedited shipping encourage customers spend more on unnecessary stuff, further aggravating our already rampant consumerism. Critics also claim that Amazon’s Prime service encourages customers order single items and have them shipped quickly to them, rather than combining multiple orders into larger boxes, which would be more efficient.
Others have criticised Amazon for opening up huge commercial operations in hundreds of predominantly minority communities and residential areas across the country. An analysis by Consumer ReportsIt was found that Amazon warehouses had a greater number of people of color within a 1-mile radius than the median neighborhood of their metro areas. This means that 69 percent of these warehouses have more people living within that area than the median neighborhood. Residents complain about increased air pollution due to the presence of trucks and vans moving to and fro, making it more dangerous for children to walk and bike, congestions, and an increase in noise.
The company’s carbon emissions were the focus of attention in 2019. In 2019, hundreds of employees (Amazon Employees for Climate Justice), called on corporate leadership for a commitment to net-zero pollution by 2030. Amazon claims that it is making rapid progress towards net zero carbon emissions. Although it won’t be practical to reach that goal until 2040, Amazon is working towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Other green initiatives by the e-tailing juggernaut are a $100m investment in nature-based solutions like reforestation and a recent purchase 100,000 fully-electric delivery vehicles. Collaborations with manufacturers to improve or reduce packaging have resulted in a 27 per cent reduction in packaging weight since 2008 and the elimination of 810,000 tonnes of packaging material.
Cloud computing is another area where the company has received praises. Amazon servers are likely to use a lot more electricity than they need, and research shows that companies who migrate their server infrastructures to cloud-based services such as the industry-leading Amazon Web Services can save 87 per cent on energy. It is possible to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by letting go of your servers.
We can’t forget Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and former CEO, $10 Billion pledge to fund global climate resilience and mitigation efforts across the globe over the next ten year. The so-called Bezos Earth Fund is not affiliated with Amazon.com but was created from Bezos wealth stream. It has already donated $947 million towards various programs, organizations, and research efforts that address climate and environmental justice issues.
CONTACTAmazon Employees for Climate Justice amazonemployees4climatejustice.medium.comThese Communities Pay the Cost When Amazon Expands consumerreports.org/corporate-accountability/when-amazon-expands-these-communities-pay-the-price-a2554249208/; Berkeley Lab Study: Moving Select Computer Services to The Cloud Can Promise Significant Energy Savings newscenter.lbl.gov/2013/06/11/berkeley-lab-study-finds-moving-select-computer-services-to-the-cloud-promises-significant-energy-savings/.
EarthTalkRoddy Scheer and Doug Moss produce this document for the 501 (c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. More information is available at emagazine.com. Earthtalk.org is a place to donate. Send questions to: [email protected].