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Green Machines
Amazon: The Best Friend Environmentalists Don't Know They Have

Amazon has finally launched Prime Pantry, its answer to big-box stores where consumers go to stock up on household items. The new service will let users order non-perishable items to be delivered right to their door, as Entrepreneur reports:

In a dig at stores like Costco and Walmart, where customers save by buying in bulk, Pantry users will be able to purchase items like cereal, canned soup, pet food, paper towels and detergent in “everyday sizes,” but save by having them shipped in bulk

Customers can order up to 45 pounds of items, but each box, no matter the size of the shipment (it shows the percentage being filled in the shopping cart), will be delivered for $5.99.

Unlike Amazon’s grocery service, which is active in only a few west-coast cities, Prime Pantry will be available to all Amazon Prime users in the contiguous 48 states. The new program is the latest of online shopping’s challenges to brick-and-mortar retail. Amazon is selling Prime Pantry as a way for the consumer to save money (through bulk shipping), but it will do something perhaps even more important: help save the planet. By reducing the amount of gas both consumers and producers alike use to transport products from warehouses to houses or apartments, online shopping reduces emissions. Greens should be thrilled at Prime Pantry’s debut, but instead have remained silent.

Though this development is very welcome, big-box chains might feel threatened by Amazon’s entry into their market. But never fear, there’s another sector that chains can target if online services capture a bigger share of the perishable goods market. Health care provided by clinics is cheaper for the consumer than it is in other settings, and stores like CVS are already¬†moving¬†to capitalize on that. A world in which people buy more things online and get more health care in big-box clinics would be a greener, cheaper, and more convenient world than the one we currently live in.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Not quite as good as it seems. Customers must fill a box before it gets shipped, and I suspect that few of them plan far enough ahead for that to work. Furthermore, for $99 Amazon Prime members get free 2-day shipping on many household products (and video streaming), Wal-Mart has free-shipping for a $50 purchase, $35. This offer looks to me like a rare miss on the part of Amazon.

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