“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this.” In July of 2021, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos made these remarks after his 10-minute space flight that cost millions (perhaps billions if you count Bezos’ $5.5B+ investment in his private space company Blue Origin that executed the historic flight).
I already knew that Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world (valued at $200 billion), that Amazon workers were entirely overwhelmed and overworked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the concept of wealth distribution of its record profits within the company would be wishful thinking. And yet despite being well aware of that, after hearing Bezos’ July remarks, I thought to myself, “Is this guy serious?”
Recognizing that misalignment of values, why is it still so hard to give up Amazon?
From a business perspective, the hold that Amazon has on consumers is equal parts incredible and impressive. The ease and convenience of uttering, “Just buy it on Amazon Prime” to maximize cheap costs, free and fast shipping, as well as choose from hundreds of options in one place feels irreplaceable. Did I also mention that Amazon owns Whole Foods and Bezos bought the Washington Post? Irreplaceable, meet nearly unavoidable.
Ah yes, that’s why.
I’m not naive to the fact that this company has become so ingrained in our everyday lives and giving it up immediately and permanently is a big ask. Although shopping at Amazon doesn’t inherently make me a bad person, I’ve always been curious about ways I can close the gap to align my values with my habits. If I say I’m someone who cares about supporting small businesses and supporting workers, my spending habits should ideally parallel those ideals.
So, that brings us here — these are just a few helpful tips and small shifts I’ve tried to incorporate:
1. Get into the habit of searching for alternative retailers
Get creative and specific when using keywords during your searches for items to purchase. I was recently on the hunt for a gua sha beauty tool, but wanted to find one from an Asian/Asian American brand, knowing full well I’d have thousands of options available to me on Amazon. It took me a few extra minutes and several more dollars, but simply typing “Asian owned beauty brands gua sha” brought me to Pink Moon and Mount Lai.
Similarly, opt to shop small and support small businesses! Whether it’s IndieBound’s Indie Bookstore Finder, Etsy for unique items, or even our very own Asian American Small Business Shopping Guide, it’s likely you’ll find a small business option you might be more excited to give your money to.
2. Reframe your expectations
The idea of supporting small businesses is a more powerful motivator than trying to run away from Amazon altogether. It’s going to be tough at first and there will likely still be Amazon packages being delivered to your door here and there, but small shifts can lead to an eventual habit change.
Similarly, try to rethink the sense of urgency that Amazon Prime feeds. Although we’re so accustomed to items arriving within 24 to 48 hours, asking ourselves do we need it in the first place and do we need it that quickly? If so, try and plan ahead of time where there are other retailer options to support that might take just a bit longer.
3. Try not to turn a blind eye to news/updates that detail unethical business practices
We live in a world of quick soundbites and news updates that can numb us from the harsh realities in our society. But being mindful of the businesses, organizations, individuals, and causes we support with our resources does matter! The ask isn’t to be perfect, but to embrace information that might challenge us and the way we choose to live our lives. Are there ways we can grow and be better? Probably!
4. Eventually, give up your Amazon Prime subscription and see how it goes
In full transparency, this is one I have still yet to conquer. I’ve slowly weaned off of purchasing items from Amazon, but I still use Amazon Prime video from time to time, my roommate and I have an Amazon Fire Stick (which we honestly hate), and I still get the lingering feeling of, “Well, what if I need something fast..”
Even saying that out loud reminds me that I probably don’t need to keep it around. My goal is to cancel it by the end of the year to see if that was truly a necessary subscription in my wheelhouse. (Feel free to hold me accountable and ask me about it come 2022).
Chances are you’ve probably considered giving up Amazon once or twice. And if this is the first time, that’s a start! At the end of the day, my greatest encouragement is to at least give it a try and practice some small shifts. How does that saying go? The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step — cheers to that journey, one less iPhone case or pair of Amazon leggings at a time.
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