Call me a masochist, but I really like messing with my automatic programming; switching up habits I normally wouldn’t think about to create some space. But it’s really not about constant improvement or making myself into a superhuman; it’s about what I tend to learn about myself and what tends to affect my emotional state and how I see the world. I never knew, for example, that I was actually addicted to sugar until I cut it out. I didn’t realize how strong my body was until I made myself learn olympic weightlifting. And don’t even get me started on what I learned about myself by not shopping for an entire year (though you can read about that here).
But when Ryan came to me last month and suggested we not buy anything from Amazon in December, I was reluctant.
We have two kids! And a business! And books to write! We can’t be wasting our time at…I don’t know, where do people even buy gifts? The mall? What is this, 1997?
I tentatively agreed because I love him, but it wasn’t until this Saturday, when we went into an indie bookshop, that I actually committed.
The bookshop had a little pamphlet on the shelf about Amazon, how it hurts small businesses, and how much money Jeff Bezos actually has (“If you made $500 every day since the invention of the printing press, you’d still have less money than Bezos has today”). No new information there, but reading it in a bookshop, where I could see how hard people were working and how happy the customers seemed to be to browse the shelves, was what made me see it all in a new light. When I started reflecting, I realized I’d written before about working conditions at fictional amazon-inspired warehouses, but I didn’t seem to mind when the real flesh-and-blood employees did all my holiday dirty work. I started asking myself the question we all wish people in dystopian novels would ask themselves: why am I, personally, putting up with this?
Ryan told the lady at the counter about our resolution, and she called over the owner, who took a picture of us for their instagram feed. In her caption, she asked her patrons to jump on board with this trend.
Why not? If everyone reading this post right now committed to shopping exclusively or even partially at small businesses this year, it could positively impact the environment (less demand for mass-marketed goods, less delivery stops for trucks) and your local economy. It could also lead to some revelations about yourself, your habits, your emotional state, which could enable you to live a more intentional life this holiday season.
I hear your voice, the voice of resistance, the voice we all have now, in its nasal, whiny tone, asking But how big of a difference could it really make?
You never know until you try.