How to reduce excessive Amazon delivery packaging

How to reduce the amount of packaging in an Amazon parcel delivery

With the way things currently are, more and more people are now ordering their goods online. Whilst internet shopping may be more convenient, and good for the likes of companies like Amazon, is it a problem from an environmental perspective?

Amazon packaging size

Amazon is a prime (excuse the pun) example. If you've ordered products through Amazon, you'll sometimes receive your delivery in a box that's way, way bigger than it needs to be. You may also have previously experienced an Amazon delivery where your parcel has been packaged as if it's a candidate for a game of pass-the-parcel. In other words, you open the original humungous box that's just been dropped off by one of their drivers, only to discover a reem of brown paper, a bunch of air-filled plastic bubbles and another smaller, sealed box inside. Open that one, and it's déjà vu - More packaging and another even smaller box that contains the actual item you ordered; probably already wrapped in plastic and in a polystyrene cocoon.

Is it really one size fits all?

When the above happens, the obvious thought of "surely they must have smaller boxes" springs to mind. I mean, this is Amazon, right? A multinational company that surely must have a variety of different sized cardboard boxes to choose from?

Sure, next-day deliveries are awesome... but at what cost? Although the item may be competitively priced (including the postage cost), do you really need all that unnecessary packaging and would you be kinder to the planet if you sourced the item you wanted locally?

amazon large box before being opened

The stuff of nightmares

If you wake up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat, agonising over the moral dilemma of all the extra packaging and all those wasted trees that were chopped down to make it, there may be a way to ease the guilt so that you can get a good night sleep once more.

Amazon product inside large packaging box is much smaller

What can you do?

If you simply do nothing but just carry on a-clickin' and a-buyin', then perhaps you're part of the problem too? If it's something that concerns you then perhaps it's a good time to make the head honchos at Amazon aware of your frustration. One way to look at it is that you're actually helping them to help you... as long as you voice your concerns over all that unnecessary wasted paper, cardboard and plastic. Fortunately, the paper and cardboard can easily be recycled but all the excess plastic isn't biodegradable and is trickier and more costly to recycle. In fact, a lot of the plastic we buy each week can't be recycled and ends up going to landfill or even floating around in the ocean! - Not a good long-term strategy.

But I'm just one person, how can I make a difference?

In a sense, perhaps you couldn't if it were just you, but if hundreds of thousands of people become more aware of the problem and choose to join in fixing it, there's a reasonable chance that the practice may change further. Sure, you're only one person, but if you're part of a large choir that's singing from the same hymn sheet, your collective voices become much louder. 

Amazon wants to know about your concerns

Fortunately, Amazon does include information about the problem on their website. On this page, they say that they are aware of the issue and are taking steps to deal with it. Importantly, the page links to a study that concludes that online shopping is a greener alternative to the traditional retailing model.

As such, Amazon now has a software program that is able to determine the most appropriately sized box for items that are shipped out to their customers. The software looks at the item's dimensions and weight and then chooses the right-sized box. The net result is that the number of packages that were previously delivered in wrong-sized boxes has been significantly reduced. This does, of course, have an impact on reducing the amount of packaging used, which can further reduce waste and bring down the cost of transportation.

Notably, Amazon have launched their Climate Pledge which provides information about how they are dealing with the packaging of their products in order to minimise environmental wastage. The pledge also contains details about their customers' concerns about damaged packaging, together with a helpful link for you to contact them to provide feedback or raise any concerns you may have.

Perhaps most importantly, they also provide really useful details on how you can adjust your own habits and any impact they may be having on the environment. This includes reusing and recycling as per their Amazon Second Chance innovation. On that page, you can also learn about the best ways to recycle Amazon packaging, together with a whole host of additional help and advice on other relevant topics.


It goes without saying that it's a two-way street. Ultimately, it's up to Amazon to decide the best packaging options for the products they ship but it's important to remember and accept that you can also play your part to help put an end to excessive and unnecessary packaging, particularly as Christmas looms on the horizon.

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