Student’s Corner

Amazon’s Climate-Friendly Pledge

In the wake of Cyber Monday and for the beginning of the holiday shopping season, if you’ve been on Amazon recently you might have noticed that it now advertises a new feature on some of its products. In addition to labeling some of its products as being a #1 bestseller, having prime delivery, or marking products as coming from a small business, Amazon has started labeling some of its products as “Climate Pledge Friendly”. What does it mean for a product to be considered “Climate Pledge Friendly” by Amazon, and is this a legitimate effort to increase sustainable purchases or just another instance of greenwashing?

According to Amazon, to be labeled as Climate Pledge Friendly products must go through a certification process either through Amazon’s own sustainability criteria or by one of a variety of trusted certification agencies it is partnered with such as the USDA or EPA. An example of Amazon’s own sustainability criteria is the Plant-Based Fiber Blended certification that ensures the product is made with at least 50% plant-based content. 

This initiative is just one part of a broader effort Amazon is undergoing to increase sustainability. In 2019 Amazon signed a climate pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2040. Following through on this promise has been a challenge for the company. However, for the first time in four years, in July 2023, Amazon reported a slight 0.4% decline in carbon emissions. While this number seems quite small, this is a big improvement from the annual 10 million metric ton increase in carbon emissions it saw previously. 

As a result, while individual sustainable actions matter, it is important to not lose sight of the bigger issues at hand. When shopping this holiday season go ahead and choose Amazon’s climate-friendly products or, better yet, shop locally, but as you do so continue to keep up to date and engaged with the broader environmental movement that is pushing to keep large companies such as Amazon sustainably accountable.

Written by Alyssa Horng ’26

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

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