Amazon Prime Is Offering 1-Day Shipping to Members, But It's Not All Great News

Remember when shipping your online order used to take 5-7 days, or sometimes, even longer? Yeah, we don’t either. That’s because we’ve been enjoying 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime for so long now, and it became so popular that other companies have had to scramble to reduce their shipping times, too. But now, Amazon Prime wants to take that instant shopper’s gratification feeling you get at a real store and deliver it to your doorstep in record time — just one day, to be exact.

Amazon just announced that they’ll be switching from Prime two-day shipping to Prime one-day. This has huge implications for small businesses and other Amazon competitors — Walmart has already said that they’ll be matching Amazon’s speed at some point.

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We love the thought of getting our random assortments of toiletries, electronics, pet supplies, and whatever else from Amazon in just a day, but there are a few catches.

The first is that, depending on where you live, you might not actually get one-day shipping. I have Prime, and noticed during a recent stay with family in Maine that the guaranteed two-day shipping was more realistically three-to-four-day shipping out in the countryside. And apparently, a lot of people have noticed that there’s already an asterisk on two-day shipping meaning your item will arrive within two days of being delivered to the carrier, not within two days of ordering.

But worse is the environmental impact one-day shipping could have. We already know that’s it’s catastrophic to one’s carbon footprint to order a tub of laundry detergent on Monday, cat food on Tuesday, a Mother’s Day present on Wednesday…you see where we’re going. Each one of those products has to be shipped, being driven or flown around the country until reaching your doorstep. With one day shipping, the impulse to buy single items one at a time on a whim might be too strong to resist, but really there’s a better option.

Amazon now allows you to select an “Amazon Day,” a specific day of the week when all of your Amazon orders for the week will be delivered. This dramatically reduces the amount of carbon needed to get your products to your door, and they’ll combine your orders if possible to reduce the amount of packaging wasted in your order. We suggest using Amazon Day to reduce your carbon footprint, and saving Amazon one-day shipping for emergencies. When you do this, ordering online can actually end up being more eco-friendly than driving to the store.

There’s also another ethical concern — will Amazon treat its workers fairly as it ramps up shipping speeds, even though they’ve already faced allegations that conditions in their warehouses are inhumane and that they fire 10% of their warehouse workforce annually for productivity reasons?

Who knew there was so much to consider when it comes to something as innocuous-seeming as one-day shipping? We love that Amazon is convenient, we’re glad we’ll be able to get one-day shipping when we need it, and we’re definitely going to start using Amazon Day to reduce our carbon footprint. But in the meantime, it’s also important to support local small businesses whenever you’re able to and make sure to keep calling Amazon out if it seems like they’re doing anything shady to their workers.

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