Amazon customers have had reason to rejoice as of late. Whereas up until very recently the company required Prime members to spend at least $25 when purchasing small items in order to qualify for free one-day shipping, buyers can now receive the same benefits without the monetary requirement. The requirement change seems to be Amazon’s most recent attempt at edging out local retail stores, and it might just work. The convenience is too great to pass up.
Unfortunately, that convenience comes at a steep price. While the removal of the one-day shipping restrictions sounds incredibly convenient when taken at face value, there are a number of frightening repercussions that the average consumer might not be taking into consideration. First and foremost, this rule change is sure to drive up purchase rates through the Amazon website. Buyers are shopping online more than ever before, which will lead to more trucks on the road for longer periods of time. While more trucks on the road will surely mean more people will be receiving their packages, it also means more carbon emissions will be pumped into the atmosphere.
It takes a particularly savvy consumer to recognize the potential side-effects of a change such as this one. Most people who make frequent purchases on the shipping site are already incredibly detached from the process. Their purchase is one click away, and very few people are liable to consider what all that click entails, and that’s exactly what Amazon wants.
Amazon supporters are quick to mention the electric truck fleets Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, has committed to purchasing as part of the company’s open pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, and it’s easy to see why. For all intents and purposes, 100,000 new electric delivery vehicles would be a huge leap in terms of making the company more sustainable.
That being said, the electric truck fleet won’t be put into use until 2024, and while the use of said truck fleet is a nice gesture, the issue at hand extends beyond environmental impact. Even if the carbon emissions were significantly reduced with the introduction of the electric fleet, one must not forget that said fleet still requires drivers, and the working-class employees at Amazon are the ones who are already being affected the most by the recent changes. Amazon workers are well known for being drastically mistreated, and the revised shipping strategy will ensure that they’ll be worked even harder than they were before.
Just this past week, Amazon employee Billy Foister died of a heart attack while at work after complaining of chest pains. It took supervisors 20 minutes to notice his lifeless body on the warehouse floor. The well-being of company employees has always been secondary to the administration in Amazon, and an uptick in consumerism is only going to exacerbate the issue. If change is to be made then consumers must be the ones to initiate it. This means educating others on the cascading repercussions decisions such as this one can have on the world around them. It’s all too easy to choose convenience over morality, but the health of the planet and the underprivileged working class rely on somebody taking notice.
Consumers can show their disapproval of the company by voting with their dollars. Amazon is a corporation and corporations are interested in one thing only: money. They will continue doing whatever turns them a profit. Refusing to take part in Amazon’s game is the best form of protest, and that means buying one’s products from local businesses. If a person were to find themselves in need of a book, they could turn to local bookstores before using Amazon’s service as a last resort. With a little more effort society could choose to support local businesses, which will always be the more admirable option when the alternative is lining the pockets of greedy corporations. Services like Amazon’s next day free shipping are not always necessary, and because of the undue burden they put on the working class, they should be avoided whenever possible.
That is not to say the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the consumer. That would be both unfair and unrealistic. It is important to acknowledge the fact that the government must play a role in checking the power of these large companies. Corporations like Amazon are able to abuse consumer and worker alike because too few laws exist that prevent such abuse. The consumer must advocate for change so that the government is moved to take action. Neither the consumers nor the government can be expected to address the situation alone, and the only way to ensure that these changes occur is if people vote to make sure their elected officials are supportive of their ideals.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the trouble doesn’t begin and end with Amazon. Society must not forget the fact that big corporations like Walmart are also guilty of the same sins Amazon is accused of here. As mentioned before, these corporations are only interested in money, and they’re willing to abuse their workers and trick their customers if doing so means hastening the cash flow. This is not a battle that is easily fought and won, but instead, a constant struggle that requires consumers to be ever vigilant.
It’s hard to place the blame on the consumers — they’re simply doing what a capitalistic society asks them to do. United States citizens are born into this world prioritizing themselves, and reeducation is necessary if there’s any hope of saving the environment. Those consumers must be made aware of the realities of corporate greed because, whether they realize it or not, the choices big corporations make impact them directly. Those choices impact their friends and family members who work for companies like Amazon, and they impact the very world they live in. Society must be made aware. It isn’t an easy burden for consumers to carry, but it is an important one.