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Before you buy on Amazon…

Yes, it’s a marvelous, wondrous service. You can get practically anything you can imagine, usually shipped within a few days. But lately, I’ve been thinking, is it always a good idea to purchase there? Over-reliance on one source for your supplies is risky, should that service ever fail, fall into the wrong hands, be weaponized, etc.

I would be especially cautious if you are purchasing a majority of your basic needs from them (food, critical household supplies).

Here’s a short mental list of questions I consciously go through before making the decision to purchase something from Amazon.

  • Can what I’m looking to buy be repaired (if looking for a replacement)?
    • Sure, you may end up still buying the parts from Amazon, but presumably it weighs and costs you less than a whole new thing. Plus that’s one less thing that needs to be created and consumed, and one less thing that gets thrown away.
  • Is it available secondhand locally?
    • Local thrift shops, offerup, craigslist, nextdoor, facebook marketplace, facebook “buy nothing” groups
  • Is it available new locally at a small business? Even if it’s not currently in stock, and you can wait a few extra days for it to ship to a store, ordering through local biz is better, and keeps some $ local
  • Is it available to purchase directly from the manufacturer? Oftentimes small businesses will sell direct and through Amazon, knowing that more eyeballs will see it there versus their own site. But check first! Often the pricing is the same (and they aren’t giving up the 3-5% or whatever haircut amazon gives them).
  • Can you order it shipped to a local (even big box) store?
    • less carbon footprint, as they are receiving tons of goods anyway
    • even local big box stores contribute to the local economy via providing jobs
  • Is it available elsewhere online (alibris for books, ebay)
  • (For food items) Could you buy in bulk from a buying club, perhaps going in with some friends and neighbors to save $ per unit and reduce # of trips?
    • Azure Standard is a great bulk club (not a true buying club because no dues!)

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