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Since November 2007 the online mail-order company Amazon offers its Amazon Prime service to German customers.
Last year Amazon got criticized quite often: bad working conditions, dictation of prices and interferences in sales are only a few points of the negative-list. But are there any positive aspects as well? Without going too much into detail about the postives, the main point: Amazon discovered the environment, and is absolutely determined to advance itself to the Environmental Primus. Newest Amazon buzzword therefore is Amazon Prime.
What’s Amazon Prime exactly? How can a customer service be green and environmentally friendly? It’s origin was the free and quickened premium shipment for a variety of articles, meanwhile it includes much more: Prime customers have access to the streaming-service Prime Instant Video, the Kinlde library as well as the unlimited online storage for pictures in Amazon’s own solution Cloud Drive. Brave new world and everything because the environment get’s protected?
Shipping-software out of environmental love
Looking at the single service areas in detail. Shipment is still a very big part. No doubt that the potential there is quite big and allows further and further optimizations. But, how does this relate to environment? If you trust the information and statements, you get the impression that Amazon leaves nothing untried to put itself into a better perspective. Nearly 100% of the cardboard boxes and the filling material are made of recycled paper and are re-usable. Sounds really good! A specially developed software defines on the basis of various parameters the optimal size of packaging and therefore prevents that goods are being delivered in boxes that are too big. The big mail-order companies should follow this example. Shipping costs are also drastically reduced by this.
A healthier environment by streaming services and online books?
Rather a doubtful discussion, if streaming of videos or the downloading of ebooks are more environmentally friendly than buying a hardcover book. Agreed, if you consider an ebook-reader and the quantity of read books instead of one book as basis. If you compare the used resources like water, energy and minerals, an ebook-reader positions itself as environmentally friendly after a consumption of 40-50 books. Unfortunately the average of Germans are reading less than 10 books a year. So in this case a hardcover book is the greener alternative. In addition, recycling of ebook-readers is not done professionally, mostly it hits the household bin.
That a streamed video is more green than its counterpart on DVD or Blu-ray is understandable. Unfortunately there is no valid data available, but it is certain that especially serverfarms and storage space are having an impact and that Hardware as well as energy can be saved.
Energy savings rocks!
Amazon globally established employee projects in saving energy. How does it work? The so called “Earth-Kaizens” (Kaizen, Japanese = Change to the better), are ecoconscious employees of all hierarchies, who look for energy guzzlers and develop a green alternative. Especially in logistics they were able to partly save up to 90% of the needed energy. The more environmental friendly architecture of new buildings with recycled and sustainable building materials as well as a resources saving techniques is a further module in Amazon’s effort to not sicken the world even more. That Amazon doesn’t only do that out of duty of care and responsibility, but also saves money with it, is absolutely OK.
Last year Amazon announced that there will be no paper invoices in the boxes anymore because of environmental reasons. And straight away a lot of customers protested against it. Including people in my circle of friends who want to abandon electric light because of being soooo eco. In fact it is a big savings potential for Amazon of paper, toner and time. That the shipper wants to protect the environment by this, is a pretextual reason to alarmed customers - nothing else was to be expected. I personally don’t have a problem to print the invoice myself if needed.
Newest environmental project: Delivering via drone. A few days ago Amazon applied for a patent in the USA for future deliveries from the air. Cool, isn’t it? And again negative comments hail down and words like fraudulent labeling come up. Let’s assume that you live in a difficult accessible region - let’s say a small undiked island - and you need an important drug. Besides the health care a delivery via drone is life-sustaining as well as more environmental friendly as using the post ship. Environmentalism has to be practical and within the meaning of people to me.
There is always something to whine about. If you look at things long enough in different angles puristic environmentalists find something to get shirty. Stay relaxed: Aren’t we already impressed by the many initiatives of Amazon concerning the general welfare of the environment? I am. Maybe this is the start of a global movement, be and think more eco-friendly. Big enterprises like Amazon can take the pioneering role and be an idol.
But what does this mean to a project like alugha? One of our big challenges is making the world greener and especially in the area of online videos we can contribute a big part. Thus, that we decouple video and audio and then at the end combine only one video with the audio files for all languages, the possibility for Amazon to stand out arises. They could really be a big pioneer if relying on the alugha technology.
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