I was one of the early devotees of Amazon. It was the perfect place to find those hard to locate books my boys wanted in our home school. Those were the days when Amazon was simply a place to purchase books. As the years wore on Amazon added to their product lines and I added hard to find items to my shopping lists. Four years ago I decided to live without a car. I did so knowing that if I couldn’t find an item locally I could shop with Amazon.
That came to a sudden halt this past January when I’d had enough.
It began when stories leaked out concerning the working conditions of its employees. Hard work never scared me away but some of the stories were pretty bad, such as instead of paying for fans or air conditioning ambulances parked outside one warehouse waiting for employees to collapse from heat exhaustion who would need their services.
Even that wasn’t the end for me. Christmas was coming and I needed to purchase gifts. As much as I wish I could say my moral values were offended enough by these stories it had been too long since I had tried to find the right gifts locally and with time running out I was lost.
There are no shops near my home, outside of a Family Dollar and a small grocery store. Having chosen to live car-free Christmas shopping was difficult, so I returned to Amazon. When my seven year old grandson didn’t receive his present on Christmas, four weeks after the order had been placed, because Amazon was less than honest about its inventory I was done.
Friends and family placed bets on how long it would be before I gave in and placed another order. They’ve all lost. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe I meant what I said, but they too have come to rely on Amazon. They pictured how long it would be before they would need something no longer available locally and give in. They projected their feelings to my ability to live without Amazon.
I’ve lived a minimalist lifestyle for a while now so it’s not like I was shopping online weekly or even monthly. Christmas, a couple of family birthdays, and yes the 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper I can’t purchase locally.
But life goes on. I don’t think much about Amazon these days that is until I spotted an article about the ten best purchases from Amazon one blogger posted. Not one item from that list would I have been tempted to purchase. So I thought I’d share with you just how I’ve come up with gifts without using Amazon.
Very little of my gift giving has come from online purchases this year, there was one item purchased from an Etsy shop and two items purchased for a two year old from a small family-run, online shop.
- I made a cheesecake for one family member, her favorite dessert. Added bonus, all the ingredients were found locally without the use of a vehicle to bring them home.
- A phone call was all that was needed to wish one person a Happy Birthday.
- I made photo albums for two of my grandchildren.
- Pillow cases made from fabric I already had.
- Using left over yarn I crocheted fingerless gloves, scarves and even dishcloths to give.
But what about things needed around the house? There isn’t much I need outside of cleaning products. I use white vinegar and baking soda for most of my cleaning but haven’t found a good substitute for dishwashing detergent. I find I like Mrs. Meyers the best and happened to find it at the home improvement store twenty miles away so I stocked up. Surprisingly their price was less than what Amazon charges.
What about books? Books was how I got hooked on Amazon in the first place. I haven’t used Amazon to purchase books in a long time, as I’ve worked to green my lifestyle. I’m sure I’d have a bit of difficulty if I still home schooled, but I don’t. The library and their lending program has been my go-to source for books. There isn’t a book store in town but the local library has softened that blow by dedicating a room to used books patrons can purchase for a donation (amount of your choosing) and there’s always my kids I can share and borrow books with.
It’s almost been a year now since I last placed an order on Amazon and it feels good. Amazon isn’t an evil entity any more than any other corporation but it’s grown too large and with size there will be areas that no longer work as they should.
Amazon didn’t grow to its current size alone. We grew it by favoring that business over others, over local businesses. There is a place for Amazon, and other online stores but if we limit our shopping to what we truly need when all other options fail us it might shrink to a more manageable size.