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    Why it’s Time to Break up with your Prime Addiction

    Is that you logging off Amazon with your Prime Day deals? It’s time that we should have a talk.

    Don’t go hiding your overnight shipments and Blue Apron boxes. I won’t shame you for your behaviors. But we do need to think about the bigger picture of your impulse buys.

    Many of the ‘conveniences’ we have today come at a cost. As someone brought up at our energy panel (and the recent Sustainable Brands conference), it’s difficult to be sustainable when we want everything right now — especially delivered to our door.

    That convenience is so tempting. In this 90* heat, I may stop 3-5x’s walking home from my local pet store, carrying the large dry food or pet litter bags so FLOOF can survive. There are many times that I’m tempted to pull up Rover.com and autoship, eliminating my errand. But there’s a bigger picture.

    From the boxes to packaging and quick shipping – it’s all adding up and taking a toll on sustainability.

    The Cost of Amazon Prime

    Let’s consider the Amazon Prime phenomenon.

    First, there are the environmental costs. Emissions add up from online shopping – from the delivery trucks, planes and the recycling of the cardboard. Prime’s two-day shipping means that products are more likely shipped via air – or at least on partially empty planes or inefficient routes. As far as cardboard waste, the New York Times reported that e-commerce was a chunk of 35.4 million tons of containerboard were produced in 2014 in the United States.

    Then, there’s the cost to our local economy.

    Love our city’s plethora of small businesses from corner hardware, garden supply stores, and niche clothing boutiques? Low prices online make it difficult for local businesses to compete and stay in business. Amazon was responsible for killing 22,000 retail jobs in 2015.

    Smaller businesses create more jobs. For every $10 million in sales, local businesses create 47 jobs versus 19 people for Amazon.

    Worried about Philly schools? Amazon tends to pay no property, payroll, sales and commercial activity taxes versus local retailers with storefronts who do. These funds help support our schools, roads, police, fire, and libraries.

    And it’s not just Amazon that’s causing problems. As many people are trying national food deliveries like Blue Apron, it’s also impacting our local community.

    I get it – meal planning is hard. But your money is going to a New York startup, not a Philadelphia area farm. Did you know you can get a subscription EVERY week for 20+ weeks with a local CSA, like Greensgrow, Red Earth Farm or Taproot? Even local businesses like Philly Foodworks allow you to skip a week of your CSA. And the veggies are cheap without all of the individual packaging waste.

    Want Less, Buy Less

    What’s the way to go? Supporting local is best. For every $1 spent at a local store, 48% stays local (vs. 14% from national stores).

    Cut your shipping emissions by picking up your shopping list on your daily commute. If you’re driving (or taking public transit), try to plan a day to knock out all of your purchases.

    If you can’t go cold turkey on online shopping, we’re not saying to never do it. Just plan wisely. Wait to accumulate a few items on your shopping list until you’re ready to place an order to reduce the amount of packaging. If you don’t need your purchase immediately, request “no rush” shipping.

    In the meantime, I’ll continue to carry Floof’s 25-pound litter bags three blocks home, sweating and cursing to support a local business – and working my arms in the process.

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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