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The Amazon Who Stole Christmas

In this post, Ambassador Olivia writes about why it is best to avoid purchasing holiday gifts through Amazon, and offers some local alternatives.


There are many reasons why Amazon is a great resource. It is easy to use, offers quick delivery, and is COVID-friendly, since it allows users to avoid in-person shopping. However, on the other hand, there are a lot of hidden environmental impacts and externalities that are not well-known about the company.

This holiday season, it might be worth thinking twice before purchasing gifts through Amazon. In 2019, Amazon admitted that they release the same quantity of carbon dioxide as 13 coal-burning power plants produce in a year. This prompted them to create the Climate Pledge to become more environmentally-friendly. This appears to be greenwashing at its best, seeing as Amazon's emissions rose 15% the year after they pledged to "go green".

Among online purchases, up to 4 out of 10 purchases are usually returned. Seeing as Amazon is the largest e-retailer in Canada, the CBC Marketplace recently led an investigation to determine what happens to returned items. Although Amazon users may think that they are sending returns back to Amazon to be resold, the Marketplace investigation revealed that many online retail companies cannot keep up with the volume of items returned and they must find fast ways to get rid of the items. Due to this, many (the exact number is unknown) return items are sent to liquidators to be destroyed and sent directly to a landfill. There is also a lack of transparency about this procedure, seeing as Amazon refused to tell CBC where returned items are sent, and this procedure is not mentioned to clients. Furthermore, the donation program for return items that Amazon made available to 3rd party sellers is only available in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, since this is a significant issue for Canada, we have the opportunity to act on it by supporting other more environmentally-friendly organizations within the country.

Considering these environmental impacts and the current financial position that many local businesses are in as a result of the pandemic, supporting local (while adhering to social distancing guidelines and following public health and safety protocols) seems like a win-win. I encourage you all to check out Christmas at the Forum to purchase holiday gifts, crafts, and other items made by local vendors and artists. Halifax Noise (which you can find on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) also has a gift guide highlight on their Instagram account which provides a variety of ideas for local products that can be bought as holiday gifts (or to spoil yourself).


Olivia has lived in Nova Scotia for the last three years and is currently a Master's student at Dalhousie University. In her spare time, you can find her exploring the beautiful sights of Nova Scotia and documenting them on her Instagram account @thenostalgictraveler.

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