How to Instantly Reduce your Amazon Packaging

How to Instantly Reduce your Amazon Packaging
6 Minute Read.

You know that feeling —> You just got home and your Amazon package has arrived! You slice open the box with burning excitement to get your product, and you see a mass of plastic air pillows engulfing your itty-bitty product. We all love online shopping, but the packaging that comes with it can often be overkill.

After reflecting upon my own actions, I realized it was so easy for me to complain about the packaging without taking any responsibility for it. After all, I was the one who placed the order. Had I contacted them to let them know their packaging was wasteful? No. So how were they supposed to know if people, as eco-conscious as me, weren’t giving them feedback? And why would they change their practices if we don’t tell them that minimal, eco-friendly packaging is important to us?

Image of an opened box with plastic air pillows coming out of it

 

Between the packaging, the transportation fuel, and their ability to get orders to customers within a few hours, there’s no denying that Amazon has a huge carbon footprint. The fact is: online shopping requires massive amounts of energy and resources, but there are several things that we as consumers can do to minimize that footprint. Here are 5 ways to reduce your packaging waste from Amazon. OK, so the first one is more of a hopeful request, but the others are very easy to implement, will reduce the amount of waste created by your orders, and lower the carbon footprint of your deliveries.


What can I do to make my Amazon orders more eco-friendly?


1. Contact Amazon: Tell them you want less packaging

You can ask their customer service department to avoid excess packaging when shipping your orders. In true Mama Eco fashion, I’ve made this super easy for you. All you have to do is enter your name and email below, and hit submit. Your email request will go directly to amazon, and they will respond directly to you (usually within 6 hours).

It’s ultimately up to Amazon to abide by your request, but it’s important to let them know that their packaging is wasteful and that people demand a more environmentally responsible alternative. I see this as exercising our consumer rights, and the more of us who make this request, the more they will realize that it’s important to their customer base and can essentially affect their profitability.


Enter your info here to request minimal packaging from Amazon:

***By submitting this request, you agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy of Mama Eco, and will be subscribed to the newsletter. No spam. I promise.


2. Opt for Frustration-Free Packaging

Amazon has an option for Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP), which means that your order will arrive in easy-to-open, recyclable packaging without any of those “hard plastic ‘clamshell’ cases . . . [or] plastic-coated wire ties” (Amazon). Currently, they have about 750,000 products available with FFP. So even though they haven’t rolled it out site-wide, there’s a significant amount of products available under this option. There are 2 ways to utilize frustration-free packaging:

Add “frustration free packaging” into the search field:Image of the Amazon.com Search Bar with the words "headphones frustration free packaging" in it


Look for frustration-free packaging on the product page:

 

*it will either show it in the title

Image of the title for a product on Amazon.com

*or in the shipping details

Image of the Title and Details for a product on Amazon.com

 

*or it will give you the option

Image of the Frustration Free Amazon packaging options

3. Group Your Orders Together

If you’re ordering multiple items, when you get to the shipping page, Amazon gives you the option to group your items in fewer deliveries. This not only reduces the amount of boxes and packaging needed for your orders, it also reduces the amount of planes and trucks involved in getting them to you. This reduces their use of fossil fuels and lowers their carbon footprint. Indirectly, it also reduces your carbon footprint since you’re reason behind those deliveries.

Image of the shipping options on Amazon


4. Choose No-Rush Shipping

This one doesn’t affect the amount of packaging you receive, but it majorly affects your carbon footprint. Unless you have this burning sensation in your crotch that needs to be relieved immediately, you probably don’t need same-day delivery for your wheatgrass powder or post-it notes. I know its free with your Amazon Prime membership, but getting all your deliveries within 24 hours of ordering them means there a bunch of half-empty planes and trucks all over the place. But if you choose no-rush shipping, Amazon can efficiently pack all of their vehicles to capacity. This decreases the amount of deliveries they make, lowering their use of fuel. And Amazon often gives you a cash back reward for choosing the slower option.

 

Image of Amazon Shipping Options


5. Feedback. Feedback. Feedback.

Once you’ve received an order, give Amazon feedback about their packaging. If it was excessive, let them know. If they did a good job, still let them know. Either way, you’re helping to improve their sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint (as well as your own).

It used to be super simple to give them feedback on specific packages, but they’ve removed that feature for some reason. You can still leave feedback via their Contact Page and let them know what you thought of their packaging.

 

Here is a recent order I received from Amazon. After opening the package, I contacted Amazon and told them where their packaging was great, and where I thought they could improve.

 


In case you’re wondering if doing any of the above actually make a difference, let’s hear from someone who has successfully lowered her Amazon packaging waste. Shelbi is an aspiring zero-waster who uses Amazon as a way to source sustainable products that she can’t find locally. Since contacting amazon AND utilizing the above tools to minimize the packaging she gets from them, she’s noticed a decrease in plastic fillers and overall packaging (despite experiencing the occasional plastic air pillow). “I use Amazon to buy things I can’t otherwise find in stores [like bamboo toothbrushes]. It has definitely saved me a lot of plastic waste, time, and fuel, [which collectively] cuts down on my carbon emissions.” –  Shelbi (a.k.a. Shelbizleee on YouTube) – FYI: her YouTube page has a ton of videos for lowering your waste.

 

Image of a Plastic Air Pillow

 

Moving forward, if one of these suckers ends up in your Amazon delivery, you can visit How2Recycle.info, which is an online resource for learning about which plastics are recyclable and where your local drop off locations are. They might be nearer than you think! You can also drop it off at a local grocery. If they collect them, there’s usually a bin at the entrance.

At the end of the day, online shopping isn’t going anywhere, so we need to create the most sustainable model possible. In 2016, there were over 310 million active Amazon accounts (Statista). Imagine if even 0.0001% of those people contacted Amazon to give them feedback about their packaging practices. Who knows . . . maybe our feedback will encourage Amazon to introduce carbon-neutral shipping. Fingers crossed!

Image of two Amazon.com Shipping boxes

 

See My Eco-Friendly Amazon Faves


Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions or comments, you can post a comment below.

 

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29 thoughts on “How to Instantly Reduce your Amazon Packaging”

  • Love, love, love this article! I am just starting a company that acts as a thrift shop for reusable packing supplies (unburiedco.com). When you do get packaging supplies in the mail save it up and out it on craigslist or another retail site – small businesses in your area will appreciate it.

    • Hey Devon, I just checked out your website and I really admire and respect what you’re doing! That’s a great tip about collecting the materials and posting about it on craigslist. I bet a lot of people or businesses could use the supplies when they’re shipping something or moving. This is a perfect example that there are many ways to get to zero waste 🙂

    • Thanks Kate! I believe the key to getting people make environmentally friendly choices is to make it as as as humanly possible 🙂
      I checked out the blog that you write for. It’s got some really great tips and ideas 🙂

  • I would love to use the option of requesting less or no plastic in my Amazon orders. But I’m wondering, if I do make this request, how will they pack and ship fragile items? I’d like to make sure some things will be packed appropriately. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Hey Marcie,
      Amazon is always going to make product protection a first priority. Rest assured, making the request for less packaging won’t be prioritized over protecting fragile items.

  • Oh man, thank you for creating that pre-made form that asks for less packaging on Amazon. I personally tried cancelling Amazon prime and favoring buying items in person, but let’s just say that’s not practical. I love the idea of working WITH the inevitably-ubiquitous companies instead of fighting against them and making nearly-impossible wishes upon society. Signed up for your newsletter, thanks for the great tips.

    • Hey Jennifer! I’m so glad you found it helpful. My dad always said that in order to create change, you have to do it from the inside. If I simply shamed Amazon, where would that get me? People are still going to use Amazon, including my household, so the best thing we can do is to work with them and give them constructive feedback. Maybe one day, Amazon will be the sustainable go-to, but they won’t get there unless we ask for it :). Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

    • Hi Chris, can you share more about the initiative and how it is counteracting the unsustainable use of excessive packaging?

  • If you have Amazon Prime, and who doesn’t, opt for slower delivery. This lowers the carbon footprint of your order by allowing Amazon to group deliveries. They also give you $1.00 which can be used for digital downloads.

    • That is a really great tip, as it allows Amazon to transport their packages in vehicles and planes that are strategically packed to capacity, rather than sending a half-full plane of packages so that everyone can get their deliveries the next day

  • Admirable initiative. Makes it easy to take action. Would love to know how many people have actually used this super easy approach to make the request to Amazon.

  • I made the request yesterday and received what I consider to be a rather unusual response:

    “Thanks for contacting Amazon.com with your inquiry.
    I really don’t want to you see in more trouble and would like to make things simple for you.
    From your email message, I can understand that you want us to add a note on your account to avoid extra packaging when possible.
    I’d like to help you but currently we don’t have an option to make a note on your account. I hope you’ll understand our limitations in this regard.
    However, I’ve forwarded your packaging feedback to our appropriate department. Each report they receive is investigated and the appropriate action is taken.
    We hope to see you again soon.”

    Has anyone else gotten a similar response?

    • Hey Melissa, the beginning sentence of the response you received is a bit strange indeed. I have received feedback from another person who received a similar response saying that they didn’t offer the option. They were based in Canada. Here is the response I received from them when I made the request: “I appreciate your interest in environmental friendly packaging for your orders and I’ll send this as a feedback and instruction to the concerned packaging team such that they’ll use this instruction while packing your order.” But as I mention above in the blog, this is more of a hopeful request. It’s ultimately up to Amazon’s fulfillment center to abide by your request, but it is important to let Amazon know that their packaging is wasteful and that people demand a more environmentally responsible alternative. Two other very effective ways of reducing your packaging is to (1) opt for “frustration-free packaging” (details are above), (2) group your orders so that they come in less boxes and deliveries, and (3) to continually give them feedback about the packaging you receive. I hope that helps 🙂

  • Great article!! I love that you made it so convenient to reach out to Amazon. I just shared this post with many of my friends and I know some of them are really excited that there are people concerned and doing something about Amazon’s plastic waste. I wondered if you have multiple people with different profiles on the same amazon prime account if it makes a difference if they all reach out or just the head person?

    • Hey Sara,
      Thank you so much!
      I think its probably best to the lead name on the account. As long as you put down the email associated with the account, then that is the main thing because they can verify the account through the email.

  • Another option is to shop elsewhere. If you can, shop locally as much as possible, and voila! No more bubble wrap, zero plastic airbags. For those for whom that is not an option: many, many non-Amazon sites have stopped using plastic in their packaging at all. In fact most packages I get these days, after virtually stopping shopping on Amazon, use various configurations of cardboard and paper to keep the products safe. Prices are sometimes comparable, sometimes a lot lower, sometimes higher than Amazon, but I feel good having backed away from that conglomerate. I think the whole concept of paying for a Prime account encourages over-consumption anyway, and there is nothing “eco” about that.

    • Hi Mary, You have made many valid points. There are lots of other online websites that actively avoid plastic, two in particular that are really tackling our plastic pollution problem head-on are EarthHero and Life Without Plastic. The more we can support sustainable businesses like that, the better. With that said, Amazon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and for the 300+ million Amazon shoppers who are not willing to shop elsewhere, I hope these proactive solutions can have an impact on the waste created through amazon purchases.

  • I received an order for a book of all things in a plastic wrapper and stumbled on to this article while looking for a way to send feedback to Amazon. Thanks for the tips! I used the form to request less packaging for other orders, but when I sent an email to cs-reply@amazon.com it was bounced back as ‘an address that does not accept incoming e-mails.’

    I did, however, speak to Amazon directly by going through the ‘My orders’ section and finding a way to start an online chat. I raised my concerns about the use of plastic over a cardboard envelope. The representative was very apologetic as we’ve come to expect from these online chat systems even for the smallest inconvenience, and said the feedback will be forwarded to the ‘packaging’ team. I guess I’ll never know if anything will come of this, but as you mentioned it’s important to give this feedback otherwise nothing will change anyway!

    • Hi Mathew,
      Thank for letting me know this. I wonder if they’ve gotten sick of us writing to them and possibly changed their customer service email. I will look into this asap to see if there is a new email that people can reach out to them at. I really appreciate you giving me the heads up on this!
      -Shannon

    • Hi Matthew,
      I did a test with the Amazon email/contact form and it is working correctly. I’m not sure why the email bounced back to you, but I’m glad you were able to speak to a customer service representative via their chat box.
      – Shannon

  • I think it’s better to make the effort to shop locally and patronize places that don’t use plastic packaging if you possibly can. I’ve been able to do this with a little extra effort. I look for the option that uses a paper package, which I shred and compost. Glass or metal are next since they can be recycled. Plastic is the option I will only choose if there is no other choice, and if I feel I can’t do without.

  • Before you order from Amazon, try to find your item online at a store you have locally, like Walmart or Target, and have your item delivered there for pickup. You can request reduced packaging AND also save fuel and other transportation costs at the same time. Some of the Target stores are also delivering your online orders right to your car for you!

    • That’s a great idea! I wonder if ordering at a local store (like Target) uses the same delivery method as online shopping or if they simply grab it from their local inventory. Do you know? I’m very curious.

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