How to Move Towards (Nearly) Zero Waste with Amazon Prime

Each year I choose a big picture life goal to explore, and work on, throughout the year.  Last year, I pondered food waste, why I had so much of it, and how I could do better. (Hello meal planning!) This year, my goal was to work on the waste I was producing and move my family towards what is generally referred to as Low Impact Living.


With cabine, I’ve  worked really hard choosing packaging that is fully recyclable. Heck, even our packing tape is made of gummed kraft paper and totally recyclable. I was doing a great job on what we were sending out into the world but not so much on what was coming into our home.


This week I decided to tackle our Amazon Prime and other deliveries that made their way to my house each week and thought I’d share a little bit that I learned with all of you.  


**Before we dive in, it is worth mentioning that Amazon has been in the news quite a bit as of late, and not all of it is good. If you are, like me, struggling with those news reports, and are even considering breaking up with Amazon Prime, I have included a few other thoughts and socially responsible resources at the bottom of this article.


How to Move Towards  (Nearly) Zero Waste with Amazon Prime


  1. Email customer service at cs-reply@amazon.com and request a note be made on your account that you prefer your orders be minimally packaged as much as possible. Amazon Prime cannot guarantee any specific vendor will honor this request but most do their best. An example of what you might say: Hello. I have an Amazon account associated with this address. I’d like to request that in the future my packages are packaged as minimally as possible. This means opting out of bubble wrap, plastic pillows or any other additional plastic packaging that can be avoided. Thank you! 
  2. Check out  Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging program. Basically, this is a group of retailers working with Amazon to avoid putting a box, inside a box, for shipping purposes only. So much of our packaging is designed to be retail friendly. It is meant to hang on a hook, look attractive on a shelf to entice buyers, it is  transparent so you can see the product, and/or acts as a deterrent for theft. (Super annoying, impossible to open, clamshell packaging is an example of all of these.) These packages, while serving their purpose in a retail environment, are not often conducive to shipping, hence the need for packaging the package. Amazon has a few different examples of how this works on their site for your reference but a simple example is that if you’d like to purchase a pair of headphones from a retailer participating in this program, your headphones would not be placed in a plastic clamshell but instead  directly inside a labeled/logo shipping box. The shipping box is safe and recyclable, and the plastic clamshell has been eliminated. Search Frustration Free Packaging in Amazon’s search bar for a full list of participants. 75,000 of them last time I checked. 
  3. Last but not least, and possibly most importantly, avoid, whenever possible, 2-day shipping. Convenience is wonderful but of the many things burdening our planet, the burning of fossil fuels comes in at the top of the list. If you are ordering multiple orders, request that they ship together.  Combining orders, as well as, using standard shipping, may add a few days to your shipping time but it allows fulfillment centers to focus on the most (cost) effective way to get them to you instead of the fastest. Two-day, or expedited shipping, means more cars and trucks on the road, and even more flights. Fast shipping will guarantee you are adding more carbon into our environment.

Local ideas instead of Amazon:


Keeping it local will always be your greenest bet. It also has the greatest impact on your local economy. It is estimated that $68 for every $100 stays in the community when shopping at a local business. When spending the same at a non-local business, or large chain, only $43 stays in your community. Seek out farmers markets, small business such as family owned hardware stores, independent bookstores, or co-op’s just to name a few.


A few socially responsible, non-local options are:


Here’s to celebrating progress over perfection every single day, my friends!