Brice Bunner

How Amazon influence swaying manufacturers’ designs can be sustainable


Image ©: CoolSmartPhone Amazon products getting smallerTide and Seventh Generation have changed their packaging and even their formulas to be better suited for the online behemoth, Amazon. This change reflects a growing consensus in commerce that online is better than retail. But we see how this is an unintended but pleasant surprise coming from Bezos & Co.

Sustainability is profit-driven

If you’ve followed the news at all since 1998, you know that Jeff Bezos is a smart man; especially with regards to his money. When he first started Amazon, for instance, he spent almost every dime he earned for the first ten years just building infrastructure. At the time, investors felt this was a bad idea. Fast-forward twenty years and we can see this was a lucrative option.

So, we can see how everything Amazon does has a profit motive. And this reduction of packaging sizes is no exception. By making these detergents smaller, shipping becomes cheaper for Amazon—simultaneously making these products more sustainable.

Whether or not Bezos pushed this forward specifically to be sustainable is up for debate, but the lesson here is that sustainability is a profit-driven motivation. And this makes sense when you think of the point of sustainability. It’s to sustain resources for ongoing use.

But is this the best we can expect?

It’s always good to see sustainable action even when it’s unintentional. But what we would love to see would be Amazon pursuing fully reusable design—like with how Loop has been partnering with manufacturers—instead of just shrinking things. With Amazon’s almost perfect model of mail-order consumerism, you’d think Bezos would be looking into a subscription replenishment model as a way to further integrate the everything-store into our lives.

Whatever the motivation and whatever the future looks like (Amazon’s influence is a tell-tale sign of what consumerism is going to be—if not already is) an interesting thing is that using Amazon’s services can actually make your footprint smaller when done with consideration. So, if you’re using Amazon or other online service to purchase items, select the slow boat and you’ll cut your emissions nearly in half from any other shopping behavior. And that’s another profit-driven motive making you sustainable.

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