Why Amazon Go should be a no-go: We will drown in a sea of plastic

shopping amazon go
© Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Even the fruits and vegetables are wrapped in plastic so that the sensors can read them, inculcating a culture of convenience and waste.

The whole pitch of Amazon Go is that it is so convenient and quick, so easy to buy more than you need, so useful to give Amazon ever more detail about your most personal habits. Manoj Thomas, a professor of marketing at Cornell University, tells the Star: "We know that when people use any abstract form of payment, they spend more. And the type of products they choose changes too."

detail of packaging© Stephen Brashear/Getty Images Detail of packaging

But this convenience has a cost, not only to your wallet and your privacy, but also to the climate and the oceans -- because everything in the store, even the oranges and vegetables, have to be individually packaged and labeled. The artificial intelligence and machine learning, all those sensors on the ceiling, may figure out that you have picked up a tomato, but it can't figure out what it weighs.

Use of plastics© World Economic Forum

If you read The New Plastics Economy from the World Economic Forum, you find that by 2050 oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish (by weight), and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production and 15% of the annual carbon budget.

If you read David Roberts' truly scary recent article about climate change, and realize that plastics are essentially solid fossil fuels, then you have to make a direct connection between climate and the manufacture of every plastic bottle and plastic-wrapped product you buy.

plastics flow© World Economic Forum/ just 14% of plastics are recycled.

If you read anything on TreeHugger lately, you find that plastic pollution of our oceans has become one of the hottest environmental topics and that we have to change our ways. In her latest, Katherine writes:

What is needed are changes to consumer behavior and product design, both of which will be driven by public opinion. As the public attitude turns against disposable plastics, then grocery stores, clothing companies, restaurants, schools, and hotels will start to reexamine their policies. Governments will take note and realize it's far smarter to pass laws banning single-use plastics than to spend a fortune trying to clean up shorelines, save fish and seabirds, and incur possible future health-care costs caused by human plastic consumption via our plastic-saturated food chain.

Sandwiches at Amazon Go© Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

And what is Jeff Bezos giving us? A store where everything in it is sold in single-use packaging, either polyethylene around sandwiches, cardboard or single use plastic containers for almost everything, almost all of which end up either landfilled or leaked into the ocean. So really, just say no to Amazon Go.

More than money or even privacy, this might be the biggest price that you pay when shopping at Amazon Go.

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