I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the “zero waste” movement for quite some time now… but there’s always been one thing holding me back: my dependency on Amazon Prime.
For anyone who might not know what zero waste entails, I’ll break it down for you. Zero waste is a philosophy and accompanying lifestyle that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Essentially, someone who lives “zero waste” strives to radically slash their waste output, while living a more fulfilling life.
Going zero waste also means you can’t recycle your way out of the problem. It’s not enough to purchase and consume and purchase and consume… only to hope that the contents of your recycling bin somehow get repurposed. Recycling isn’t a perfect solution. Did you know that only 9% of plastic is actually recycled?
The true path to zero waste lies in lessening our dependence on recycling (which should be a last resort) and striving to simply consume less. Before making any purchase, wait. Spend some time thinking about whether or not you truly need it.
I’d scoured hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of Instagram feeds touting this zero waste lifestyle. It’s simple, clean, modern… all the things I idealize and want to see reflected in my own life. So what was the main thing standing between me and making my minimalist dreams come true?
A few weeks ago, I finally realized that I could never truly get closer to living a zero waste life while also subscribing to Amazon Prime. It didn’t matter how many mason jars or reusable grocery bags I owned… at the end of the day, the mountains of cardboard boxes and piles of plastic bubble wrap overflowing from our recycling bin meant that I was a zero waste phony.
Even though I knew this truth about myself, it was still difficult to take the anti-Prime plunge. Living in a consumerist society doesn’t help, either. Everything we consume on a daily basis — ads, marketing, commercials, images, music, social media — tells us what we should have and want and need.
For years, I convinced myself that I needed my Amazon Prime membership. How would I survive without free 2-day shipping? If I didn’t have Prime, how would I take advantage of the stellar online deals? Where else could I find my favorite soy organic baby formula — at $1 less than I’d ever find in my local grocery store? I didn’t know it then, but asking myself these hypothetical questions was just my mind’s way of tricking me into remaining a product-hungry consumer.
So yesterday, I finally did it. I canceled my Amazon Prime membership.
To put it simple, these are the top 5 reasons why I decided to part ways with my beloved Amazon Prime.
1. It saves me money.
This month, Amazon increased the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119. Although this is only $10/month (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t break the bank), that’s $10 extra dollars I can spend on my family instead.
(Let’s not even get started on how much money I was spending outside of the annual membership fee.)
2. It reduces waste (even packaging that can possibly be recycled).
Amazon is the KING of redundant packaging. One time, I ordered a 5 mL bottle of essential oil off of the website. This teeny tiny bottle came wrapped in plastic bubble wrap… tucked inside a small box… tucked inside of a larger box, big enough to fit several large textbooks. What?!
Even though the cardboard boxes could be recycled, opting out of Amazon means opting in to a more zero waste lifestyle. It’s that simple: you don’t need to recycle the boxes if you don’t have the boxes to begin with.
3. It forces me to think more about my purchases.
Being an Amazon Prime member feels good because it’s all about instant gratification. One issue facing our generation today is that the feeling of gratification is getting shorter and shorter to the point where it almost doesn’t exist anymore… where we need more and more hits to feel an ever decreasing high.
By opting out of Amazon, I will now be second- and third-guessing any purchases that I make (and if they don’t add any value to my life, I will not be adding them to my cart!).
4. I don't need all of the other perks and benefits that Amazon Prime offers.
In addition to free 2-day shipping, Amazon sells its Prime membership as offering a myriad of other perks and benefits. You can stream thousands upon thousands of movies and TV on Prime Video, you can shop exclusive deals, you can borrow books and magazines, etc.
However, when I really thought about how often I used most of these extra “perks”, the answer was blatantly obvious: I hardly ever use them. If they’re not important to me, then they shouldn’t be taken into consideration when deciding whether to keep or cancel my membership.
5. Being an Amazon Prime member goes totally against my belief in supporting local businesses.
One of my favorite all-time books is Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble. The book follows the author through a year-long journey of eating “unprocessed” foods and returning to her local roots. It’s set in Tucson (where I currently live) and is totally inspirational!
This book completely transformed my way of thinking. It was the first time I’d really thought about making mindful purchases, before I’d even heard about zero waste. Some nuggets of wisdom:
“If a community the size of Tuscon shifted 10 percent of its spending to local businesses in one year, we would create $140 million in new revenue for the city and 1,600 new jobs.”
“Our dollars have the power to change the way things run, and yet we give them away with such ease. Money circulates, money travels, and money rushing through Wall Street does not simply appear it off the ether. I buy things and my dollars trickle toward the center. We treat money as an either/or–either we have money or we do not have money. But we often don’t stop to consider what happens in the space between, how money flows through a community.”
“According to a study by Local First, if you spend $100 at a local business, $73 of it will stay in your community, meeting payrolls, covering rent, creating accountability; spend that same money at a national corporation and only $43 sticks around.”
If these are the things I believe — and they are — then being an Amazon Prime member goes completely against those beliefs. I don’t like being a hypocrite (who does?), so there was only one obvious choice: hit that cancel button.