Amazon is starting a new shopping site called vine.com that will sell green products that meet standards for environmental-friendliness within any or more of these categories: they must be designed to remove toxins, energy-efficient, natural, organic, powered by renewable energy, reusable, made of sustainable materials or water-efficient. The marketplace, which is part of the company Quidsi that Amazon bought in 2010 and runs several niche shopping sites including Diapers.com, will allow consumers to shop for things like reusable diapers, non-toxic cleaning products, bamboo cutting boards, low-flow shower heads and natural cosmetics all in the same place.
According to the NY Times Bit Blog, Vine does not accept products just because they are labeled as "natural." All vendors have to verify that their products meet green standards and all ingredient lists are reviewed to make sure that no banned substances -- those that are commonly thought to be harmful to human health or the environment -- are included. You can see the list of those ingredients here.
Because green consumerism is about more than just what products are made of, the site also allows consumers to shop fair trade products or those that are made within 100 miles of their home.
Of course, shopping in general is not an eco-friendly practice and e-commerce sites come with sizable environmental footprints from the warehouses they run to the mass of cardboard boxes and packaging and the cross-country shipping and Vine owns up to that.
Josh Dorfman, the site leader, says, “It’s a fair point that no matter how you’re going to engage in commerce, there’s going to be an environmental impact. We’re not promising to be the greenest company right away, and we’re owning up to the fact that it’s not the way we operate across the entire company.” But Vine is trying to reduce its impact where it can by transitioning to 95 percent recycled shipping boxes and using software that calculates the right size box based on the dimensions of the products in your order so that there is no wasted excess packaging.
When we do have to shop, choosing sustainable and non-toxic products is always the better choice and at the very least Vine is creating an easy and convenient way for people to find products that have been vetted and will be safer for the planet and themselves.