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Why I Haven’t Shopped at Amazon in More Than a Decade (& What I Do Instead)

McNally Jackson Books, SoHo, NYC, December 2021

It has now been more than 12 years since I have made a single purchase from I had been an Amazon shopper for about 5 years, but in 2011, I started to get this intuitive feeling that something wasn’t right about how cheap and easy it all was, and I just stopped buying from them. Three years later, bad news started to become more and more public about the company’s practices.

If you’re interested in understanding more about how and why Amazon is so cheap, I encourage you to follow some of the links I’ve dropped at the bottom of this post. Please don’t justify the practices of this company by pointing to Bezos’ pledges to lower carbon emissions or fund preschools. These are simply acts to distract from the other horrific practices within the company, and they clearly cost less money to the company than paying taxes or paying authors, inventors, etc. adequately for their products.

Ultimately, I find it very rewarding to, to the best of my ability, disengage from Bezos. When I learned that Amazon was acquiring Whole Foods, I sat in my car and wept. My friend Jenn and I used to joke about getting Whole Foods passport books and going to every location. We love that store so much. So now, post Amazon-acquisition, I do my best to avoid Whole Foods, but occasionally, in cities where I am not familiar with the local natural food stores and I’ve got to get to a job or something, I will go to Whole Foods. (In NYC, my favorite alternative is Lifethyme in the West Village. It’s the best.)

And avoiding Amazon Web Services (AWS) is heartbreakingly difficult, since they provide for innumerable services that you’d never guess, including Netflix. But this is about doing the best I can. And if you are ready to distance yourself from Jeff Bezos, I’m happy to share with you my guidelines below…

Quit Amazon Prime.

Just hold your breath, close your eyes, and do it.

Amazon Prime keeps you psychologically hooked. Once you’ve bought in, there’s an incentive to buy as much as you can from Amazon to justify your buy-in, and they keep it addictive for you in all the ways you know. (Fast shipping, dirt cheap prices, etc., etc.)

Shop Literally Anywhere Else

Often, product recommendations on blogs and websites lead to Amazon links. Here’s what I do: I just copy/paste that product title into Google and scroll down until I see the original manufacturer or vendor of that product. Some products are only available on Amazon. I search until I find a similar product that I can buy not on Amazon. Sometimes you might need to shop at Walmart or Target instead. Obviously, these aren’t exactly local stores, but they are still not trying to dominate entire markets the way Amazon is. Another GREAT option is Etsy. Muji and Package Free Shop are also great. If you’re buying books, you can also use, which funds local bookstores all over the U.S. And if you’re more into audiobooks, rather than Audible (which is also owned by Amazon), if you have an iPhone, I encourage you to buy audiobooks from the Books app. (I use this app ALL THE TIME.)

Shop Local

Think about all the places in your town that you like. Bookshops, gift shops, boutiques of all kinds. These places pay taxes (unlike Amazon), plus rent. They pay personnel to talk to you. And all that money STAYS in your community, bettering the lives of the people you know and love. Do your very best to do your business with these people.

It might be uncomfortable at first to pay more than you were paying for something. Once again we come back to the fact that Amazon cheats pretty much everybody they can on their way to getting a product in your hands. When you buy from a local shop, you are paying what could more accurately be described as the “true price” of that item, with no cheating involved. It may be uncomfortable at first. It may only be the difference of a few cents, or it may be the difference of $10. Whatever the twinge is, sit with it. Ask yourself what is more important— saving a little money, or your integrity and the strength of your community. If you really need to save that money, ask yourself how important the thing itself is to you. Can you just not buy it? Can you save up for it?

I acknowledge that these are difficult questions, especially when you’ve made a habit, as so many people have, of just buying-buying-buying from Amazon. Also, give yourself grace. Every dollar that you don’t spend on Amazon is a win. And, as Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

P.S. If you’re interested, I’ve made a list of places I like to shop instead of Amazon. Check it out here.


The Nation: Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market— It Wants to Become the Market

Vox: Donating $10 Billion Isn’t the Best Way for Jeff Bezos to Fight Climate Change

Hightower Lowdown: The Birth of Amazon

Hightower Lowdown: Like Walmart, Only With Supercomputers and Drones: At, “Cheap” Comes at a Very Hefty Price

Hightower Lowdown: Amazon’s Ruthless Practices Are Crushing Main Street— And Threatening the Vitality of Our Communities

ILSR: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell in Conversation About Amazon

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