It seems like whenever there’s an outcry on social media about Jeff Bezos and the goings on at Amazon, people are demanding change. Be it the unfair wages, tax evasion, lack of philanthropy etc. people are desperate for Amazon to become better. However Amazon, like many other big businesses, couldn’t care less about the words used against it. The only way to make Amazon change is to hit them where it hurts the most: their wallets.
I’m sure you know plenty of people both online and in real life that decry Amazon and demand things change, yet continually use it as a service nonetheless. And from an internal perspective, it may make sense. Why bother investigating a creative small business when getting your shopping fix can be so easily done via big retailers with next day delivery? Since it’s convenient, it’d surely make sense to pay for overpriced consumer items rather than investing that commodity in the community, right?
Many people would disagree with the previous sentiment, and indeed get upset when high-street retailers are getting shut down in favour of package delivery and hypermarkets instead. But in the same vein, these same people often fall back into the same ways of shopping, arguing that it’s futile or too difficult to change. The repercussions affect those who may wish to start up their own business, thinking it to be a waste of time if customers are happier going to Amazon or eBay to buy gift items, jewellry, candy boxes, decorations and whatever else they think they need. Perhaps it is hopeless to expect change when the average consumers are willfully ignoring the ways to improve…
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So what is the incentive to support local businesses over big business retailers? Well, paying a local retailer for something they have made/sourced themselves results in your money going to said retailer. If the local outlet has only one person running it, for example, 100% of the money goes towards them financing their operations and building their business, as well as establishing a positive customer connection that encourages repeat business for the future. This worthwhile investment gets noticed in the community and encourages more people to shop there. This can be called a positive feedback loop, where growth and investment only get better with time. This is but one example of how the general populace can invest their money in something beneficial rather than needlessly handing it over to greedy corporations.
The other side of the coin involves paying Amazon for the price of an item to be delivered. This money goes to Amazon, yes, but based on the recorded wage output and continual demands for boycotting and strikes against unfair pay, it is fair to say that not 100% of your money is going towards the people who are providing you with your much-needed items. Additionally, the empiric size of these companies often means there is little care for their carbon footprint and environmental damage. Where small local businesses are doing their best to utilise any surplus profit in the most effective ways possible, Amazon and the like have little consideration in light of their vast profits. Ensuring your money is being funneled into an appropriate and considerate purchasing system not only has economical benefits but also environmental ones, hence the title of this article.
Perhaps the best example of the lot when it comes to its environmental impact, Etsy is already a well-known established brand. Lots of people know it, but not a lot actually use it in comparison to the buying and selling behemoths. However, having a user base of over 2 million people will obviously generate a sizable carbon footprint. What makes Etsy stand out is its devotion to offsetting 100% of their carbon emissions, now done even at checkout after every product purchase.
The Etsy CEO Josh Silverman has proudly gone on record to talk about the big steps that have been taken. Through “using 100% renewable electricity, even providing thousands in discounts for solar panels, protecting forests that improve air quality and absorb carbon, sponsoring wind and solar farms that generate clean energy and replace fossil fuels”, this is not only a possible step for e-commerce but a economically viable process that all big business outlets should be fighting hard to utilise for themselves.
Smaller businesses like Made Trade ensure that “every single product fits into one of Made Trade’s core values: fair trade, heritage, made in the USA, BIPOC-owned, women-owned, sustainable, or vegan.” A fabulous marker for progress amongst the sector, Made Trade clearly sticks to its impressive ethos and promotes its respect and consideration for the more marginalised and underrepresented groups that it takes a stand for. For home interior design, clothing and stylish products galore, Made Trade is but one example of good priced products that can be bought guilt-free from a safe and reputable online marketplace.
Speaking of online marketplaces, social media has also gotten involved with the game now that there are plenty of independent businesses, buyers and sellers prevalent across them all. Facebook Marketplace is an area for local and online purchasing similar to that of eBay, another online auction giant. Instagram has its own tab dedicated to online businesses and accounts that are tailored to your specific search trends.
One such online business owner writes all about her experience as a budding entrepreneur in this article, with some excellent tips and tricks for others who may be interested in setting up their own business.
Those are just two examples of alternatives where package delivery and local businesses can be supported just by putting in a little more time searching your frequently used apps. Not only is it more likely to use better carbon-offsetting systems, your money directly enhances that of the smaller local businesses and strengthens the economy as a result.
If you really can’t bring yourself away from Amazon, want to help offset your carbon footprint in more direct ways, or maybe even have a business yourself that you’re trying to make carbon neutral, iOffset offers an easy start-up service that adapts to your lifestyle. That way the decision is on the learned individual, enabling them to see how much carbon they produce in their life and how they can indeed reduce it for the good of the economy and the planet. Direct plans consist of a small monthly stipend, along with plenty of promotional and informative content showing just how much work is being done to raise awareness and safeguard the carbon offset plans we can all improve on by doing our bit.
Even just a quick internet search for “amazon shopping alternatives” has pages upon pages of suggestions and sites that are tailored for whatever shopping outlet you need. It is obviously important to be careful when buying anything online, but the effort can and will pay off when done right.
This article isn’t designed to be a guilt trip for the readers. Rather, it is here to point out the active decisions that YOU can make to improve your local community, put money back into the economy and make a small yet impactful move against big business. In 2021, dubbed by many as the “Digital Age” or the “Technological Age”, seeking out alternatives to funding the global package delivery monopolies is easier and more accessible than ever before. You just have to be willing to search outside of your comfort zone.