Last September, Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s climate initiative that we analyzed in detail here. Many initiatives weren’t ambitious enough or seemed to only be helpful in theory. The uproar surrounding the Amazon climate pledge appears to not have gone unheard. Earlier this year, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the Bezos Earth Fund to which he pledged a commitment of $10 billion. This commitment is 5% of his $182.4 billion net worth, according to Forbes. Recently he made his first donation of $791 million within that commitment. The money has been distributed to sixteen different environmental organizations that will use the money to fund projects such as decarbonizing buildings, launching a satellite to monitor methane emissions, and researching alternatives to petroleum-based fuels like seaweed-based fuel. However, a further plan detailing the remaining schedule of donations for Bezos’s commitment has not been announced.
The Bezos Earth Fund is wonderful news for many environmental organizations benefiting from the money that Jeff Bezos has donated thus far. Still, again we must question if it is enough. So far, what Mr. Bezos has contributed is less than a percent of his personal net worth. And with no schedule for future donations, let alone the commitment being only 5% of his net worth, it’s questionable if even the sheer amount is enough compared to how much his company damages the environment. Last year, one Amazon warehouse location in Europe reported throwing out 239,000 unsold items in nine months. In less than a year, that is one location, not counting the thousands of packages that are sent out every day that create even more packaging waste. Furthermore, when the emissions of transporting goods in two days are taken into account, the question really becomes if investing in future research is enough when Amazon produced 15% more emissions than it did last year after the Amazon Climate Pledge was already announced.
Is this new fund merely a public relations strategy to elevate the brand’s reputation while collecting tax write-offs? I am not an expert when it comes to taxes, let alone for CEOs who have a company and have more zeros in their bank accounts than I’d know what to do with, but I do know that significant donations can be used as tax write-offs. With such large sums donated, many people will feel better about shopping at Amazon since the CEO is ‘trying.’ However, when the total commitment is less than 5% of Bezos’ entire net worth, I wonder what the motives are behind this action. I would think the money would be better used investing back into Amazon to reduce emissions and waste.
While Jeff Bezos proudly boasts about his contributions on his Instagram, his company in the meantime has environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, and Greta Thunberg’s Friday’s for the Future on a watchlist as the company views them as a threat to Amazon’s business. Many of these organizations often speak out against Amazon due to the waste generated by over-packaged products and the emissions needed to transport from manufacturer to warehouse to our home at record speeds. This is yet another aspect of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon’s operations that makes me question the motives behind these donations.
Regardless of the motivations, I am still excited for the organizations that have benefited from the Bezos Earth Fund. However, I would love to see Amazon invest more money into switching to the electric trucks they introduced last year. More and more companies have started investing money into neutralizing the carbon footprint of every shipment until they can provide an emission-free shipment altogether. This is yet another step I’d like to see Amazon take. This money could also be invested in compostable packages for the plastic sleeves or some sort of closed-loop system for package delivery that is an option for Prime subscribers to start with. What do you think? Is the commitment Jeff Bezos has made to the new Earth Fund enough, or would you like to see more initiative from the Amazon CEO? Let us know!
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Photo: Christian Wiediger on Unsplash