3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Buying on Amazon

Did you know Amazon’s revenue would make it the world’s 50th richest country?

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Everybody loves Amazon. Everybody hates Amazon. Everybody still uses Amazon. That is life.

Soon, the three constants in life will be Death, Taxes, and, yes — Amazon. Whether we like it or not, Bezos has us under his control. And he’s buying up every other part of our lives as well. It’s only a matter of time before I start talking to Alexa (or her sister) about a date.

But there are dirty truths about Amazon most of us like to ignore. After all, the convenience of next-day delivery is just too good. We’ve all made a drunk Amazon purchase and had it on our doorstep before we wake up the next day. You can’t beat that — wait — you all haven’t had that experience? Just me?

Anyway, we must remember that with convenience comes a handful of other things to take into consideration when ordering from Amazon. Most of them are negative consequences. Things like:

  • The environmental impact of more half-empty delivery trucks on our roads.
  • Amazon’s near refusal to use more sustainable practices.
  • Bezos’ greed and inability to provide better working conditions for employees.
  • Our contribution to a consumption-fueled world.
  • Amazon’s detrimental impact on locally-owned stores and markets.
  • Did I mention Bezos’ greed?

Still, I don’t cut ties with Amazon altogether. Not yet, anyway. When it comes down to it, there is not a retailer that can compete with its affordability, convenience, and catalog. There might not ever be.

Instead, I try to limit my consumption. By asking myself these three questions, I would estimate I cut 65% of my would-be purchases from Amazon. That’s not perfect — it could be better. But imagine if everyone cut half of their purchases from Amazon. Then, we’re making progress on taming this beast.

Please note: Although my distaste for Jeff Bezos is probably already apparent, do not let this affect your judgment of the advice I’m about to speak.

Here are the questions I ask myself that lead to me being a better, more intentional consumer.

3 questions to ask yourself before buying on Amazon

Don’t be so quick to click that “Buy Now” button. Instead, slow down and ask yourself:

1. Do I actually need this product?

Try to envision what your life would miss if you didn’t have that product. It’s not too hard to envision because you don’t have the product yet. So, is your life in dire need as it is?

Especially in America, we get the 1-click to buy fever at the snap of Bezos’ fingers. We often take boredom as a symptom of needing more. We shop as a reaction. We consume instinctively.

I will admit, I’m a self-proclaimed minimalist (although I hate the title). I pride myself on the limited amount of stuff that I need in my day-to-day life.

To be honest, though, it’s nothing to be proud of. If everyone focused on more intentional shopping, we would all be in the same boat. Nobody needs all that they consume. We buy because we want.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. After all, we work hard, we play hard. But when we look at the bigger picture: the trillions of dollars of consumer debt, the hoards of products in our house we haven’t touched in months, the crippled environment; Maybe it’s time we reconsider the way we go about our shopping habits.

“Do I need this?”

That’s all you have to ask yourself. Can you justify a reason why it is absolutely necessary to have that product in your life? Will you get plenty of use out of it or will you get bored with it? Will your life dramatically improve with it? Will your life move on without it?

If you can’t answer this question with certainty, it’s a good sign you can pass for now.

2. Is there a more sustainable way to purchase this product?

Forget prices for a second. Answer this, first. Could you buy this in a more conducive way for the environment?

The answer is probably yes. In which case, I usually try to reverse-engineer my buying cycle. I start asking myself questions about how and where the product was made. How it’s delivered and by what means. Whether or not this product is worth the environmental impact. And a whole lot of other questions.

The truth is, it’s hard to understand Amazon’s environmental impact. They are very hush-hush about it. In 2019, they said they would release carbon emission reports and never really did. We can only assume if they’re trying to protect this information, it is probably pretty bad, right?

Think about all that goes into rush delivery –

  • Unfriendly packaging (for the environment)
  • Big manufacturing warehouses
  • Even bigger distribution plants
  • High energy consumption
  • Multiple trucks, planes, trains — whatever it takes.

And the biggest thing I like to remember about the convenience of two-day delivery is that it means Amazon doesn’t have time to pack delivery trucks full. This means delivery methods are less-than-efficient. That has been Bezos’ model since day 1.

He’ll do whatever he can to provide the customer with the ultimate shopping experience. Whatever, that’s great. Still, it’s detrimental to other parts of our society.

Instead, we need to look at more sustainable ways of purchasing. Even if it means stretching our wallets a little thinner. For example, the trend (or wannabe trend) of buying local.

That’s a good first step.

3. Is it a quality product?

I’ve been here before. Faced with my final test — caught trying to justify my laziness and why I’m buying on Amazon. So, now, let’s talk about quality.

Amazon is a retailing giant. You can get anything you want with a click of a button. And the best part — it comes cheap. Free delivery and most of Amazon’s own products are sold through a plethora of in-house brands like “Amazon Basics” at a dirt-cheap price. You can’t beat it. Especially since the quality ain’t bad.

But could you buy better? Is there somewhere else that could provide a longer shelf life on your purchase? After all, the product will probably end up on a shelf after a few weeks never to be touched again, anyway.

Local sellers — the Mom & Pop shops we always talk about — do one thing particularly well: Quality.

That’s because, without giant factories, they don’t get the opportunity to put every product through an assembly line of machines. They don’t get the luxury of selling without ever laying eyes on each product.

And, although it may be more expensive, you can take refuge in the fact that your money is directly contributing to someone else’s pocket not named Evil Jeff Bezos. You can take pride in that fact alone.

And, then, you can be happy about buying quality and buying sustainably.

If we all made our purchases 25% more intentional, it could have a monumental impact on this worsening situation. These three questions could go a long way in achieving such a goal.

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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **

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