The online retailer might be convenient, but supporting it is hurting the planet and our people.
Amazon started as an online bookstore where we could all get access to our favourite authors with the click of a button, but now it’s become the biggest retailer on the planet with customers in 180 countries, selling everything from diapers to TVs and including services like video streaming and smart home technology.
But the e-tailer has become so synonymous with poor working conditions and bad business practices, among other things, that it topped Slate’s 2020 list of 30 most evil companies in the world.
Here are five reasons you should stop shopping on Amazon.
Amazon treats workers badly
This New York Times investigative report from 2021 found that hourly workers who worked for the company for more than three years were encouraged to leave so they could be replaced by fresh faces who were eager to work. Employees are constantly tracked and evaluated based on their amount of T.O.T., or “time off task”. Some workers only find out about their shift the day before, while other workers raised issues of racial inequality in the workplace with unfair pay across demographics and one worker being called “not smart or articulate” after a protest. Workers have too few bathroom breaks, which are timed. All of this was made worse by the demand presented by the pandemic.
Amazon drivers have said that they are told to deliver 250 or more packages a day (which works out to two minutes a package per eight-hour shift) and due to this incredible pressure to perform to the high standard being held by Amazon, many drivers don’t take lunch or bathroom breaks, often have to speed to keep up with the pace of same-day-delivery and put themselves and others in danger — all to keep their jobs.
Amazon also uses third party companies to deliver some of their packages across the US, and they use this as an excuse to distance themselves from problems arising from their problematic working conditions. When an Inpax driver delivering Amazon packages hit 84-year-old Telesfora Escamilla and caused her death, Amazon’s lawyers said: “The damages, if any, were caused, in whole or in part, by third parties not under the direction or control of Amazon.com,” in a court filing, effectively washing their hands clean of the entire issue. This detailed Buzzfeed article is a thorough investigation of how drivers are put in danger, treated unfairly and how third party companies are paying for it.
Amazon evades taxes
Amazon is exploiting people while not paying their fair share of taxes to the countries and communities they operate in.
For example, Amazon made €44 billion in Europe in 2020 but paid no corporation taxes. How? According to The Guardian, the company reported a €1.2bn loss even though they had a record breaking year in terms of income. The company’s European division (EU Sarl) was also “granted €56m in tax credits it can use to offset any future tax bills should it turn a profit”, the Guardian article stated.
In the United States, “Amazon avoided about $5.2 billion in corporate federal income taxes in 2021”, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The federal corporate income taxes that they did pay only amounted to 6% of their record-making profits of more than $35 billion.
Amazon’s systems encourage fake merchandise
A simple search for fashion on the e-tailer can bring back a flurry of results that contain counterfeit items parading as high-end items — even though their prices and reviews are obvious clues that they’re not the real deal. The Washington Post says Amazon execs have spent “hundreds of millions of dollars and hired thousands of workers to police its massive market of third-party firms that use the e-commerce site to sell their goods”, so why does this keep happening? According to the article, it’s due to Amazon’s encouragement of cheaper prices, their drive to offer a massive selection of products, and their priority of profit over good business practices.
The company often houses “luxury” items in their warehouses, but they’re hardly ever inspected to see whether they’re the real deal. Of even more concern, luxury items aren’t the only fakes in their warehouse — safety items, baby food, and cosmetics have also been found to be counterfeit.
Amazon is ruining the book industry
The reason your favorite novels are cheap on Amazon? The company is evading taxes, avoiding publisher and author payments, and neglecting safe labour practices, says Social Justice Books. Amazon forces many publishers to reduce prices of books and e-books with bullying tactics, all so the company can lure customers onto their website through cheap books — and then offer them discounts on bigger, more profitable items.
It’s shady all around, and much better to support your local bookstore or online indie bookseller!
(Or if you enjoy audio books – switch from Audible, which is owned by Amazon, to our fave Libro.fm. They partner and share profits with local, independent bookstores!)
Amazon has a huge carbon footprint, and company leaders lie about it
The online retailer said that “activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 — the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil”, according to an article in Fortune. Amazon’s carbon footprint has increased every year since 2018 (the first year the company reported this metric) .
But this isn’t even taking into account that Amazon has been undercounting its carbon footprint for years, according to Reveal News. While most retailers have been counting carbon emissions from all of its merchandise, Amazon only counts items that have the Amazon brand label, which only makes up 1% of all its online sales. Amazon even counted 29% less carbon emissions from employees than Target even though their workforce is now triple the size. The company, “vastly undercounts its carbon footprint, accepting less responsibility for global warming than even smaller competitors,” according to Reveal News.
Back in September 2019, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company’s commitment to fighting climate change with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and becoming carbon-neutral by 2040. Amazon was to issue reports of its emissions regularly and set forth a timeline for the company to be run solely on renewables by 2030, but can this really be done considering that they’re not being honest about emissions to begin with?
Instead of supporting the tech giant and contributing to climate change, poor working conditions and tax evasion, try shopping local. There are lots of small businesses that make great products at a great price who will appreciate your patronage.