Tips on getting near-zero waste orders from Amazon

Tips on getting near-zero waste orders from Amazon - Green Indy Blog header

Listen. I’m going to be real here: not all of us are living Pinterest-worthy zero waste lives here.

Not all of us can spring for a pricey plus shipping stainless steel container from an eco friendly company. (Even if we really, really wish we could!) Not all of us live in large metropolises with 100s of zero waste items ripe for the buying. And if there are zero waste shopping options they may, once again, be out of our price point. Not all of us are able to lead uncompromisingly zero waste lifestyles, whether through some sort of limitation or just sheer laziness!

So what happens when you’re ready to replace an old, used item with a zero waste counterpart? What do these factors lead to?


Yeah, I don’t love it either and I try to go local as often as possible. I’ve weaned myself off of online ordering through Amazon to a large degree, but there are some times that I will pay for the convenience/low price point of an Amazon delivery.

When I do, though, I try to follow what I’ve found through personal research to be the best way to get (near) zero waste orders from Amazon.

Tips on getting near-zero waste orders from Amazon - Green Indy Blog

Tips for near-zero waste orders from amazon

First, email Customer Service ( and ask them to make a note in your account to avoid plastic packaging or avoid extra packaging when possible. (No, there’s not a way to do this manually.) They’ll make a note to avoid plastic on your account, but it’s up to the distributors whether they do it or not. Definitely not a guaranteed method, but worth a try.

Next, be sure to check out Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging service. The program sends your item without – essentially – a box around a box. The box is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials. Not every item on Amazon is available in the frustration-free packaging service (there are over 300,000 items), but it’s definitely a start.

Finally, if you’re ordering multiple items, be sure to request that they be sent together. Sure, it might take a few days longer to get your items, but you’ll get far less cardboard/plastic packaging with one bulk delivery.

PS. If you don’t want to recycle or reuse the cardboard box it comes in, consider using the Amazon Give-Back Program.

If you still got plastic packaging…

Zero waste orders from Amazon are kind of like unicorns… someone’s seen them (if you don’t count recyclable items) but the rest of the world has some serious doubts. So don’t be worried if you did end up with some non-recyclable items.

You can drop off bubble wrap to be recycled at a number of locations such as Target, Walmart, Lowes, etc. – find the closest drop off to you here. Those air-filled plastic pillows can be dropped off at any location that collects low and high density polyethylene films (AKA plastic bags).

Additionally, many UPS stores accept clean, foam packaging peanuts and bubble cushioning for reuse.

Some zero waste item recommendations from Amazon

Since we’re talking about Amazon, I’ll leave some of my favorite product recommendations here if you’d like to check them out. As always, look for a local alternative first, but if you’re in a bind these products can be a great help to your zero waste journey!

For the kitchen

  • Cloth produce bags: perfect for replacing the plastic bags offered in grocery stores. Because not all of us have sewing talent that can ensure things that we make won’t fall apart.
  • Bamboo dish scrubber: because they’ll last longer than a traditional sponge and are 100% compostable once you’re done with them.
  • Stainless steel straws: because even if you didn’t usually use straws before, stainless steel straws are a staple for any zero waster (kidding… kind of).
  • Stainless steel tiffin: because it’s lighter/tougher than glass and more durable than plastic containers. Perfect if you’re moving all day or often get take-out.

For the bathroom

  • Stainless steel safety razor: because disposable razors are a huge waste and super sleek blades give you an even better shave. Don’t be afraid – they’re really not that scary!
  • Bamboo toothbrushes: because toothbrushes make up a huge part of our landfills and these can be composted once you’re done (except the bristles).
  • Bulk castile soap: because not all of us have refillable soap options around us and castile soap can be used for 1,001 purposes.

For the bedroom

  • Linen sheets: because I ordered some linen sheets last summer and my bed has never felt fancier. Plus, they just get better with age.
  • Hollander pillows: because this company not only makes comfortable pillows, but even their about us section talks about the company’s move toward 100% zero waste!

Do you have any other tips/tricks for getting (near) zero waste orders from Amazon?

How to get near-zero waste orders from Amazon - Green Indy Blog

20 Replies to “Tips on getting near-zero waste orders from Amazon”

  1. This was such a helpful post. Like you, I often struggle with the slow and steady transition of being more zero-waste. I also relate to ordering on Amazon, which I do often due to the amazing deals you can find for certain things. I did not know about the frustration-free packaging so I am super excited to use that next time!

  2. This is so helpful, I’ve actual bought some of my zero waste replacements for things from Amazon and am frustrated by the packaging! How do you choose to get the frustration free packaging when you order?

  3. Thanks for this. You did a great job showing ways to minimize waste when shopping Amazon. But still, I won’t shop Amazon for many reasons other than excess packaging.

    1. Definitely agree that Amazon is pretty much the absolute last choice for me (beyond waste issues), but I’ve lived places where it’s one of the most convenient – if not only – options for getting things. Luckily, many have better options!

  4. You can also use Amazon’s “Give Back Box” option, which allows you to put usable clothes and household items in your used Amazon box, print a shipping label, drop it at your local shipping center, and it will be delivered free of charge to you to your nearest participating charitable organization. This doesn’t solve the bubble wrap issue but extends the life of the box and can help cycle some of your unwanted stuff.

    1. This is very interesting, although I wonder at the efficiency of transport/reusing a box vs. you just dropping off donations yourself during errands? Interesting concept, though, I’ll have to look more into it. Thanks for the link.

  5. Thanks for sharing all of the potential ways to minimize our footprint. At this time of year, we generally reuse Amazon’s boxes and air pillows to ship gifts to our families. I sometimes wonder which is worse, getting in my car to drive 30 minutes to go shopping and contributing to polluting our air and adding to the congestion on our roads (as well as the time spent shopping and traveling) or sitting at home and ordering from Amazon and having to deal with the packaging and then using the time savings on something meaningful. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on that.

    1. They have done studies on that and I actually have a post going up next week about when it makes sense to order online vs. buying in-store! It’s super fascinating to read about it!

  6. Thanks, this is a really helpful post! I’m trying to move towards zero-waste but it is hard to avoid Amazon entirely, and I hate how much plastic packaging they use. Just emailed them to request a no plastic packaging note on my account 🙂 Also really interested to read your post about buying online vs. instore!

  7. I also use the boxes to fill up with donations. The Give Back Box program has helped us donate many unwanted items to those who may want them. So I end up with nothing except the items I ordered when I am done.

  8. Just coming across this now and about to email customer service so the note is ready on my account for my next order.

    I also went deep into settings within the app version and found a place where you can comment on and and photos for “packaging feedback” on orders you’ve placed in the last 60 days. Kind of cool!

    Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply