As the holiday season nears, Amazon is beginning to see its yearly influx of extra revenue as people order gifts for their loved ones. This year, with COVID-19 as a factor, Amazon’s sales were up 60% from the previous year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone.
In the last nine months, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is estimated to have accumulated $48 billion. This has brought his net worth to over $200 billion, and Bezos is now the richest man in history, according to Forbes. But Bezos isn’t the only person in the top 1% to increase his paycheck during the pandemic. The owners of companies like Zoom and Microsoft, as well as other billionaires like Elon Musk, have continued raking in a steady stream of wealth.
Meanwhile, more than 275,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and 12.6 million people are currently unemployed. One has to ask: in what system do the rich get richer while the general population suffers mass unemployment and the worst public health disaster in a century?
If this seems unfair to people, they should consider shopping less from megacorporations like Amazon and more from small businesses and local stores.
Purchases mean more to small businesses
Does one person’s order mean anything to Amazon, which completes an average 26.5 million transactions every day? Probably not.
People should think about the impact their purchase can have on a small business. While one shops for a gift for their loved ones, they can also give back to their community by helping local businesses keep their heads above water during this difficult year’s holiday season.
Small business owners will appreciate and put care into each individual purchase more than Amazon ever could, and product quality is most likely better when it comes from a business owner that spends valuable time and energy filling each order.
There’s no denying that Amazon is a one-stop shop for everything anyone could ever want. However, it isn’t difficult to find a small business to give one’s money to instead.
There are 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S., a whopping 99.9% of all American businesses. There’s no shortage to choose from, and they need help now more than ever.
Shopping small is the ethical choice
While shopping small may not be the cheapest option, if one can afford it, they should. Isn’t it worth a few extra dollars to send one’s money to an ethical company that needs it rather than a billionaire who doesn’t?
Amazon was heavily criticized this spring for its refusal to provide personal protective equipment to its employees. Some employees even protested the unsafe working conditions when there was a COVID-19 outbreak at one of the warehouses. Amazon responded by firing the leader of the protest rather than shutting down the facility for the safety of its workers and community.
Next time one’s tempted to buy from Amazon — and it’s tempting — one should look on Amazon for an item they like, then go straight to the original seller, essentially cutting out Amazon as a middleman and giving more money to small businesses that could actually use it.
Shopping small is sustainable
If one cares about the climate crisis and reducing their carbon footprint, one should know that Amazon’s CO2 emissions in 2018 were larger than those of any other delivery or tech company, including FedEx, UPS, Apple and Google.
While Bezos has pledged $10 billion to fight climate change, his business continues to support oil and gas companies, and it emitted 44 million metric tons of carbon in 2018.
Amazon has laid out ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions and run fully on renewable energy in the coming decades, but that hasn’t stopped it from greenwashing — conveying a false impression that a product or company is environmentally friendly when in reality, it’s not.
Shopping small is a more eco-friendly option. By shopping locally, one can omit mass transportation altogether. Small businesses that sell their products online will often utilize the USPS, too, which has been severely defunded in the past year and needs the support of Americans.
Amazon has made clear that its priorities lie not with supporting a healthy community, a suffering country or a dying planet. If one can afford it, it’s time to ditch Amazon this holiday season and support the real foundation of the U.S. economy — small businesses.
Charlotte Matherly is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.