“We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space. And keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is.” These were the words of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, shortly after his Blue Origin flight into space. But industry has already polluted everything from the deep ocean to outer space with plastic and other space junk. A better idea would be for billionaires like Jeff Bezos and corporations like Amazon to stop polluting in the first place.
As Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space and dive to full ocean depth, said during our webinar Deep Ocean to Outer Space: Plastic Pollution Solutions, “There is no astronaut in the world that would not take extremely good care of the life support system on their spaceship. Master it completely, know everything about it, and never take the least bit of it for granted. We’re failing on all three of those accounts when it comes to the natural systems that are the life support system that we depend on.”
Bezos seems to think it’s okay to go on creating pollution, as long it is sent somewhere else. This “not in my backyard” mentality is at the heart of the plastic pollution crisis. Amazon produces more than 465 million pounds of plastic each year. And 91% of that is likely to end up polluting nature, in landfills, or incinerated, with much of it having been sent “away” from North America and Europe to countries in the Global South.
A December 2020 report by Oceana found that Amazon was responsible for adding more than 22 million pounds of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans and waterways in 2019 alone—the equivalent of a delivery van’s worth of plastic entering the oceans every 70 minutes. And with Amazon’s net sales increasing by 38% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation today is undoubtedly worse.
Bezos says the spaceflight reinforced his commitment to solving climate change. But, as 122 organizations emphasized to Bezos and incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in a letter sent on April 21, 2021, plastic is a key contributor to and driver of our climate crisis.
“Plastic releases greenhouse gases at every stage of its life cycle,” says Dianna Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter.”
“You have to start, and big things start with small steps,” Bezos said after his spaceflight. If Bezos is serious about tackling climate change, he and new CEO Andy Jassy can start by shifting Amazon to plastic-free, reusable packaging.
Tell Amazon and their vendors to stop using unnecessary single-use plastic packaging and polluting our planet and beyond. Sign this petition urging them to do so.