It all started about two months ago.
I was talking to my fiancé about some article I read about Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, when he went off.
“I hate Jeff Bezos!” he exclaimed. “No one should ever make that much money, ever.”
And it’s true.
Earlier this year, Bezos topped Forbes’ list of world billionaires for the second year in a row, coming in at a whopping $131 billion fortune.
A popular tweet recently pointed out that if “you worked every single day, making $5,000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week.”
I fact checked it; it checks out.
And it would be one thing if Amazon, which we’ve used for years — buying into the Prime membership and an Echo Dot and all — was a “good” company. It might even be fine if it was just a neutral company.
But that’s not the case.
Multiple news reports have revealed the substandard conditions that Amazon factory and warehouse workers face on a daily basis. Things like not feeling like they could go to the bathroom or being forced to work until they passed out. Look it up, it’s all out there. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Amazon continues to put mom and pop and independently-owned shops across the country out of business, because we don’t mind paying for a membership as long as we get what we want fast and cheap.
A few days ago, we canceled our Amazon Prime membership. We stopped shopping at Whole Foods. But we took it further. We decided to stop shopping at most big, box chain shops. That meant no more Walmart, no Target, and for a while, no Harris Teeter. Instead, we became members at Deep Roots, our local co-op, with an occasional trip to Earth Fare. We started frequenting the farmers markets on the weekend. And we signed up for a new membership — Thrive Market, an online marketplace like Amazon that curates and sells the kinds of products you might see at Whole Foods: organic, cruelty-free, vegan, etc. They even donate a membership to a family who needs it for every membership they sell.
And it’s been a pain the ass, but it feels good.
Ethical consumerism is growing in popularity, especially amongst my generation — the millennials. We check labels for ingredients and care if our face wash has been tested on rabbits. Like brands used to be, we wear it like a status symbol upon our sleeves.
And it’s not perfect.
Today, I didn’t have time to go to all the way to the ethnic grocery store across town for seafood so I stopped into Harris Teeter for ingredients for dinner. But at least that money isn’t going into Bezos’ pocket.
I even started a spreadsheet a few weeks ago listing companies and stores by how “ethical” they were. This included factors like how many stores they had, what their rating on Glassdoor was like and reports of how they treated their employees.
With shops like Trader Joes and ALDI it’s harder. They’re huge corporations but with a history of treating their employees pretty well.
So like I said, it’s not perfect.
But we have the means to do better, so we are. And with everything falling apart around us: the government, the climate, our mental health, why not try if you’re able to?