Editor: In selecting Arlington as its “HQ2,” Amazon has committed to investing $2 billion into its new facility and plans on creating at least 25,000 new jobs in the community over the next 12 years.
Sounds great, right?
The economic impacts of such a prominent company moving into our community are undeniably positive, but at what cost? Let’s not forget that our new neighbor (and its CEO) is complicit in one of the most pressing issues of today: climate change.
Online shopping, in general, has a massive environmental impact, from the number of packaging materials to the carbon emissions from shipping out parcels. Amazon is at the forefront of this issue as the world’s most prominent e-tailer.
Environmental activists have repeatedly spoken out against the corporation, and so have its own employees. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice is an advocacy group founded in 2019 with the goal of highlighting the devastating environmental practices of the company. The group has shared statements from more than 350 Amazon employees on their concerns about their employer’s minimal efforts to fight climate change. Some have criticized Amazon’s environmental impact from the lens of its packaging and shipping, and even gone as far as condemning the environmentally harmful products, including mercury, sold on the site.
Despite CEO Jeff Bezos’s recent pledge of $1 billion to fund climate efforts, and his company’s pledge to be climate neutral by the year 2040 and run on renewable energy by 2030, a large amount of consumerism facilitated by the company contributes to Amazon’s environmental impact.
The company’s carbon emissions are staggering. In 2018 alone, USA Today reported that Amazon emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is more than the entire nation of Switzerland.
One reason for this can be the company’s willingness to ship an endless array of goods to any location, and shipping is heavily reliant on oil. However, the root issue of Amazon’s impact is the reliance its business model has on overconsumption.
It’s simple: Amazon’s low prices and convenient way of purchasing increases demand, which subsequently in response, causes the company to increase supply. The overall effect of this is the increase of required resources to increase production and meet demand, along with more resources to package and ship these products. Therefore, it’s important to realize the effects of Amazon’s business practices, and how they impact both people and the environment.
With that said, next time a $5 (and free shipping) commodity catches our eye, we should stop to think about whether it’s simply an impulse buy, or something we truly need that can only be bought on Amazon.
Mercedes Kim, Arlington