Monday, 21 May 2018

Save our high streets > give up Amazon – and embrace shopping on the high street again

You can give up Amazon for political reasons:
Why I’m finally going to boycott Amazon | Opinion | The Guardian
Is Amazon Killing Jobs And Destroying Communities?

You can give up Amazon because you don't want to make the richest person in the world any richer:
Jeff Bezos Boosts Fortune by $12 Billion in a Day on Amazon Surge - Bloomberg

You can give up Amazon to help the high street:
Amazon's business rate to be cut while 500,000 other businesses across UK see rises | The Independent

You might actually enjoy it:
We reveal eight reasons why we love a visit to the high street shops - The Sun

Here's Lucy Mangan in the weekend i newspaper: 

I’m giving up Amazon – and embracing inconvenience again

Lucy Mangan
Friday May 18th 2018

Is it time to give up on Amazon? Lucy Mangan hopes so (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Raised Catholic, lapsed long since, my adult life has largely been spent trying not to accumulate any further guilt. So I am generally ahead of the modern evils game. I’ve always refused plastic straws, for example, because my ever-pricking conscience wouldn’t allow me to ignore the fact that they have been, from the beginning, an unnecessary adjunct to a drink and a borderline-criminal waste of resources.

I’ve always avoided glittery Christmas paper and cards because I knew something that beautiful must be causing proportionate ugliness somewhere. Tried never to buy the cheapest clothes – you know someone’s paying for it. And so, joylessly, on. It’s not been much of a life, but we heretics do what we must to keep the guilt-wolves from my psychical door.

I have always, however, permitted myself one indulgence; Amazon. I have shut my eyes and turned my ears away from stories of the deal-sweeteners it demands of impoverished towns desperate to host a “fulfilment centre” and the (fiscally and otherwise unfulfilling) jobs it brings.

Parcels of books and household goods have continued to arrive at my door as reports of the parlous worker conditions in those centres – tales of loos so far away it takes entire break times to get to them, tiny infractions severely punished, penalties instituted seemingly with the intention to prevent employees moving up the ladder to positions that might pay a proper living wage – have mounted.

But the news that at warehouses in five US states, around one in three Amazon workers depend on food stamps to supplement their incomes, followed swiftly by an interview with their (and let’s face it, our) overlord, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in which he said that the only way he could think of to spend the $131bn personal fortune that comes with owning the first company in history to look set to garner a $1trn market valuation was to liquidate a billion dollars’ worth of stock a year to fund space travel.

“You’re not going to spend it on a second dinner out,” he reasoned.

My conscience looked at me balefully. I opened my mouth to argue, but there is no argument to be made. Whatever drop I add to Bezos’ fortune every year had to stop. What price – beyond the £89 annual stipend for Prime – my convenience against the shoring up of a business practice that steals from the poor to take rich men to Mars? Bugger.

Schlepping around

And it was, especially at first, a real bugger. The child needed litmus paper – litmus paper! – for a home science project. Where the hell do you find that? The charger for my phone, too ancient to have its accessories readily stocked nearby, broke. More schlepping. Extra brackets for a bookcase were required. I’VE NO IDEA. My shopping muscles, my local knowledge, my spirit of adventure and my capacity for lateral thinking were all atrophied. Thank God I never went the full Dash-button-Amazon-pantry-bum-wipe-alert distance. I would have been helpless.

This is the price we pay for convenience, of course. We become efficient but passive, atomised little globs of flesh. From the washing machine to smartphones, technology has promised to liberate us – less time cleaning! Less commuting for work! – but more often than not enslaves us in a deeper way. Domestic expectations increase and create more work overall, and with the office in your pocket your boss can get you at all hours.

A few more years of Prime and I would doubtless have become nothing more than a giant thumb sitting on the sofa, scrolling, clicking and unable to do anything but accept whatever prices Bezos set and services he offered or withheld once Amazon had officially taken over the world (and, probably, space).

But – I was yet not entirely helpless. After a few days spent gazing round the flat in bewilderment as a list of various necessary purchases built up, faint memories of ancient skills stirred. With slightly fewer preparations than if I were going for a 50-mile hike through the Taiga, I started walking.

I felt like Harry having Diagon Alley revealed to him. Shops appeared before me. A fancy dress shop yielded litmus paper. A shop that defies categorisation but appeared to sell everything furnished my charger, and a new collar for my cat and I picked up some seeds for the garden too. A nice chat with the owner also pointed me in the direction of a hardware store for brackets.

It was, technically, inconvenient. It was also restorative, productive, humanising and fun. Amazon discounts may not have applied, but I felt like I got a lot more for my money. And Bezos got none at all.

I'm giving up Amazon - and embracing inconvenience again - i newspaper

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