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Customer Discussions > Green 3 forum

Plastic "Cell Phones for Soldiers" bag included in shipment

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Showing 1-25 of 58 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 24, 2008 4:05:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2008 8:24:07 PM PDT
C. Domiano says:
I'm glad to see Amazon making changes to reduce their environmental impact. I received a package today that included a plastic mailer for "Cell Phones for Soldiers". Perhaps these mailers make it convenient for folks to recycle their cell phones, but how many of these non-recyclable bags get tossed directly in the trash? I'm betting that a majority of the customers receiving these mailers have no use for them. Wouldn't if make more sense to include a pre-printed paper (recyclable) label for this cause? Useful for folks who need it and recyclable for folks who don't. (Oh, and I'm also not happy that I spent 10 minutes on the Amazon site trying to find a place where I could write to Amazon about this issue. Anyone have an address or email address?)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2008 9:46:02 PM PDT
M. Fischer says:
I tossed one in the trash today! It would make more sense to include these with actual cell phone or cell phone accessory purchases.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2008 3:07:21 PM PDT
99362 says:
I've thrown several away in recent shipments and I love the idea of only including these bags when Amazon is shipping a new cell phone to a customer.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2008 7:35:19 AM PDT
C. Domiano says:
You both make a good point. Has anyone had any success finding a customer service address so I can write to someone at Amazon and see if we can get them to change this policy?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2008 3:44:47 PM PDT
mmc says:
Go here: and click on"No, I wasn't able to find the information I needed" on lower right corner. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2008 12:35:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2008 12:43:22 PM PDT
Amazon Green says:
Hey there all,

Thanks for bringing your concerns about the Cell Phones for Soldiers bags to our attention.

The plastic bags are recyclable. We've contacted the company that manufactures the bags and asked them to add "recyclable" messaging going forward.

Some reasons why we're using plastic: We've actively tested other variations (printed label, paper bag) but nothing yet has performed as well as the plastic bags. By performance we mean customer response and number of phones per bag.

Please continue to bring your happy thoughts/concerns to the Green 3 forum. We appreciate it.

~Amazon Green

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2008 12:48:57 PM PDT
C. Domiano says:
Thanks for your response, Amazon Green. I'm curious what kind of return rate you get. That is, how many bags do you send out and how many get sent back. It isn't very environmentally friendly if you are sending out a lot of bags that just end up being recycled (which, in terms of plastic bags, sometimes means downcycling and/or shipping out of the country to be processed in places with looser worker protection guidelines). What type of plastic is the bag made from? I didn't see the identifying triangle on it. I know that there are many places in the country where recycling of plastic bags is not that easy--here in NYC there are only a few stores that accept the bags and they are not on everyone's route. Just because something IS recyclable, doesn't mean it WILL be recycled. I could be wrong (which is why I'd like to see the numbers) but I'm willing to bet that a majority of these bags are going straight into the landfills. Is there any chance that Amazon might consider targeted inclusion of these bags (to folks who have purchased cell phones) as suggested by 2 of the posters above?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2008 9:44:19 PM PDT
Beth Terry says:
Amazon Green, most areas do not recycle plastic bags. AND plastic bags cannot be placed in curbside recycle bins because they jam up the sorting machines. Whether or not the plastic is recyclable, if communities have no way to recycle it, it may as well not be recyclable. Are YOU willing to accept it back for recycling? In that case, why send it out to us in the first place?

I agree with M. Fischer. You should only include these mailers in orders of cell phones or cell phone accessories. Otherwise, they are a huge waste of materials and resources for people who don't need them. In fact, I doubt I will order again from Amazon as long as this plastic bag is going to be included in the package. I just received one myself last week and was pretty irritated by it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 2:27:40 AM PDT
I agree with the ideas of targeted customers why not have a place at the end of your order process to either include a bag or not depending on your need

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 9:33:25 AM PDT
L. Roberson says:
Seems like an over reaction to stop purchasing from Amazon over one aspect of their shipping process - why not take the time to find places in your area that will recycle these and the countless other plastic bags you recieve daily?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 10:44:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 3, 2008 10:44:47 AM PDT
P.A. says:
You know what's funny?? I get those bags too and I live in another country! And shipping my old cellphone to USA would cost me more than buying a new cellphone. Oh and why would I like to send a cellphone to a soldier in USA. It's not even my country. Do they even check who the package is being shipped to??

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 10:52:36 AM PDT
Beth Terry says:
Hi Latif. Actually, it's not an over reaction. I have other choices of companies to order from. Why wouldn't I choose the one with the most environmentally-sensitive shipping policies?

Also, I have already addressed the problem of recycling these bags in an earlier post. Even if they could be recycled, creating them uses materials and energy that are unnecessary if they are being sent to people who don't need the bags in the first place.

And finally, I actually do not receive countless other plastic bags daily, which is why this bag makes an impact in my life. I carry my own reusable bags grocery shopping and have not taken home any sort of plastic bag in many, many months. Try giving up plastic bags! It's not as hard as you might think it would be.


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 6:11:40 PM PDT
CBPNUT says:
I have actually appreciated these bags. I had several cell phones around my house that I didn't really know where/think about recycling, but wouldn't throw away so they were tucked aside. After receiving one of these bags, I did send it in and actually have sent in several and recommended to others who have as well (if you don't need it, maybe ask your friends if they do). I have never purchased a cell phone or accessory from Amazon, so targeting only those customers would have left me out. Our environment is obviously an important issue, but supporting our troops is as well and gets a lot less press. I say bravo to Amazon for the reminder and the ease of use! THANKS!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 7:14:55 PM PDT
C. Domiano says:
I'm glad to hear that the bag was useful to you CNPNUT. I don't have a problem with the inclusion of something like this but I think it should be something that does not add to the landfill in the case of the folks who DO NOT use it. Additionally, many places have drop off points to recycle or reuse cell phones locally which would not require the manufacture or distribution of a plastic mailer. How about including the INFORMATION about sending cell phones to this organization on a paper flyer with the organization's website address. I see there is a prepaid label that one can download and print from their website. This would mean that folks who want to donate their phones have the info and can still send them without paying postage while folks who don't need this service only have a recyclable paper flyer to deal with. What do you say, Amazon?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2008 10:30:46 PM PDT
Mike2020 says:
Easy enough to solve....just put a check box in the ordering process somewhere with the query: Would you like us to send you a plastic mailer to put your old cellphones to good use? (or equivalent). If one doesn't have one to send....I doubt they would checkmark the box.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2008 6:00:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2008 6:01:38 AM PDT
Amazon Green,

Thin plastics like the ones you currently use for the "cell phones for soldiers" mailers and the air cushions are not recyclable in the majority of the country. They may be plastic code 1 and/or 2, but NYC prohibits them from going into the recycling stream. In addition, thin plastics like these are not cost effective to recycle at all. Only harder code 1 and 2 plastics, like bottles are.

Stop including these stupid mailers in my orders. I'm not giving cell phones to soldiers and if we want to save the environment, maybe we should stop pissing away $4 billion a week in Iraq and use it instead to invest in self sustainable, long term energy solutions for this country.

You also need to change from plastic air cushions to compostable plastics or paper.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 2:30:55 AM PDT
Me says:
Being recyclable is better than not, but the point is this excess material just shouldn't be included at all. Wait- you could inflate it and have it double as your packing material. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 7:01:09 AM PDT
Has anyone thought about taking their plastic bags to Wal Mart? They will take any plastic shopping bag and on a recent trip I took the bag that came in my order and they were more than happy to accept it. Just a thought!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 7:10:40 AM PDT
C. Domiano says:
V. Stair, That's an option for folks who have a store like Wal-Mart near them that recycles the bags. There are NO Wal-Marts in Manhattan (and I'm actually glad of that). While some stores will take plastic bags for recycling here, I make it a point to carry my own bags and so don't ever get plastic bags from stores; therefore I don't have the need to go to any place to recycle plastic bags. Amazon's policy of including this plastic mailer irks me because now, as a person concerned about plastics in my environment, I have to make a special trip somewhere to recycle something that I think should not have been manufactured or sent to me in the first place.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 7:26:43 AM PDT
Once again I would like to make the point, if Amazon would just put a box at the end of the order process, "check here to receive a bag," Wouldn't this solve the problem? Only the people who want one get one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 8:33:09 AM PDT
C. Domiano says:
Yes, Richard. Quite frankly if Amazon would do ANYTHING rather than just include these in every order, it would be an improvement. I have sent 2 emails to customer service and have received 2 generic responses. The first email addressed me as if I had complained about packaging of a cell phone (which was NOT what I wrote about and I did not order a cell phone). The second email concentrated on how recyclable Amazon's packaging is. I have yet to have an actual human respond to this issue directly. It doesn't seem that anyone in the know at Amazon is tracking this discussion. Does anyone have any other ideas about how we can get our concerns to the right people?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2008 10:43:53 AM PDT
Beth Terry says:
Re: recycling at Wal Mart. Keep in mind that just because Wal Mart accepts the bag for recycling, that doesn't mean the bag actually gets recycled. Wal Mart contracts with outside recyclers who sort through the materials and recycle what they can. The rest goes to the dump. How do I know? I have visited the recycler here in Oakland, CA that accepts the recycling from several Wal Mart stores (as well as my own curbside recycling.)

Recycling is a business. If no one will buy the material, it doesn't get recycled.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 11:35:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 23, 2008 11:42:02 AM PDT
Marilee says:
Publix markets in Florida and a few other places in the south recycle plastic bags. They have bins for this. I put mine in there. I order a lot from Amazon, but I certainly don't have a lot of old cell phones lying around. I've gone almost totally plastic bag-less, carrying my own totes 90% of the time. So, yes, getting these bags in the Amazon mailings is annoying as it puts me back into the disposal racket I'm trying to escape. These bags aren't even big enough to use as trash can liners.

On this topic, I am a bit leery about donating my old cell phone, when the time comes. Surely it needs to be de-activated, and all personal info and saved calls, messages, photos, music and such removed first. That's not so easy... and might cost money. One shouldn't trust an anonymous recipient of the cell phone to do it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 6:40:52 PM PDT
Lizard Lady says:
Just a thought, if you have no use for the mailers personally offer them up on Freecycle. Someone out there can use them. I just Freecycled one yesterday and the lady was only too happy to have found an appropriate place to dispose of her old phone.

I agree that one should be given the choice whether or not to add a mailer to their purchase though.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2008 3:03:02 PM PDT
H. Bernhardt says:
I order quite a bit from and I'm so glad others have brought up the frustration of receiving a "cell phones for soldiers" bag every time you order something! How many cell phones could one person possibly have to recycle? Knowing that a bunch of these bags were printed and probably just get automatically tossed into each and every order, I'd think the simplest solution proposed might be to include the bags only when the person has ordered a cell phone from I must admit that I cringe, thinking of the waste every time I open an package to find another one of these bags. Mine also sadly end up in the trash since they aren't accepted for recycling in my area as far as I can figure out. With gas prices and global warming concerns it would be impractical to go driving to some remote place that takes these bags for recycling. The bags are a nice idea, but mostly an annoyance for customers I think.
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Discussion in:  Green 3 forum
Participants:  41
Total posts:  58
Initial post:  Jun 24, 2008
Latest post:  Feb 8, 2012

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