The world’s richest man recently announced the setting up of a $10 billion, environmental ‘Earth Fund’ to fight climate change, but as head of Amazon, is Jeff Bezos actually responsible for a lot of the harm that modern life places on the environment? Or is he giving back to the planet and helping safeguard all of our futures?
In an Instagram post, Mr Bezos said the money would be used to "fund scientists, activists, NGOs" to "help preserve and protect the natural world".
I do know someone who works for the company and he assures me that the majority of the packaging is recycled and that Amazon is continually looking for ways to reduce waste, but anyone who has taken delivery of a typical Amazon package (who hasn’t) knows just how much packaging they come with, to ensure that returns are kept to an absolute minimum for the company.
My wife ordered a lipstick recently and the box was big enough to hold 40 lipsticks or more!
However, it is very easy to point fingers and say that more needs to be done, but at least Mr Bezos can argue that his $10 billion Earth Fund will help find ways to protect the natural world.
What about other companies? And what about individuals?
One of the easiest ways to stop all those deliveries and all that packaging, is to stop buying so much
A costly reality
It is estimated that over one billion animals have died in the bushfires that recently raged across parts of Australia and the scale of the disaster has seen the re-emergence of a call for stronger legal protection for the environment, by creating an internationally recognised law called ‘Ecocide’.
At the moment, goes the argument, there is no international and legally binding agreement on ‘duty of care’ for the planet. And this allows individuals, governments and businesses to cause environmental harm without the fear of being prosecuted.
The backers of this move to create a new law see ecocide sitting alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, with judgement by the International Criminal Court.
Look in the mirror
It is so easy to point to government, big business and even the super-rich such as Mr Bezos and argue that “something must be done about them”.
It is also easy to find examples of disasters where things have gone drastically wrong, or greed has led to harm to the community and / or the environment.
We only need to look at the continued burning of the Amazon rainforest for a clear example of this, but not all of this burning is done by corporations. Just what would you do if your only way of surviving and feeding your family meant clearing forest for your cattle? It might be wrong for the planet in the long-term, but tell that to your family who are hungry now.
Here in the UK, we are privileged to be living with access to anything and everything we want. Yes of course money has to be involved, and yes of course, poverty exists.
But the simple fact remains that most of us can access almost anything we want in the pursuit of consumption.
We can get food and drink from almost anywhere in the world right in our local shops, and if it’s not there, we can simply order it over the Internet and it will appear in a day or two.
And maybe, herein lies some of the fault.
Our continuous need for ‘things’ means we are the ones helping Amazon rack up so much dough for its owner. We and our need for ‘everything now’ leads to this apparently non-stop doorbell delivery.
So, one of the easiest ways to stop all those Amazon deliveries, with their over abundant packaging, is to stop buying so much on Amazon.
I am of course using Amazon as the primary example but there are many, many more companies that can be pointed to.
So perhaps my recent experience points to a way forward.
I went shopping to the supermarket over the weekend and one of the household things we were running out of was toilet paper.
Can you guess what the aisle of shop looked like when I got there?
Thankfully, I managed to find some at my local corner shop who still had stock. Yes, it probably cost me a few pence more, but if I’d gone there in the first place, I wouldn’t have spent anything on petrol for the car … and I would have benefited from the walk to and from the shop.
I for one and going to make a conscious decision to shop more locally now.
In addition to cutting down on car journeys, it also means that I am likely to buy more fresh food and will need to think more about the meals I’m going to consume and plan better.
That in itself means I’m thinking more about my general diet, which has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?
Why don’t you give it a try the next time you need some basics? You’d be amazed where it could lead. Not only could you benefit from some tasty wholesome cooking, it could also end up helping to save the planet!
Russell Jones is content and communications manager