Addressing Consumerist Guilt

Photo by Isabel Cruz

By Isabel Cruz

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Jeff Bezos is an evil, greedy capitalist. By now, I’m sure that this is common knowledge and if not, I’ll summarize the situation for you: the amount of money Jeff Bezos is worth defies the laws of ethics and Amazon is Bezos’ white and yellow neon sign that he uses to coerce us into fulfilling our role as the “American overconsumer”.

But here’s my confession: I still buy from Amazon, and I’m sure you do too sometimes. I’m here to tell you that it is okay. 

I’m not saying that there’s no harm in constantly buying from big companies like Amazon because there is. But if your resolution for the new year is to shop small or shop less, a package here and there from Amazon does not undermine your efforts to shop as ethically as possible. 

Hypothetically, even if one out of all of your clothing purchases in a year is from a small business instead of a company like Shein or Amazon, I promise it will make a world of a difference. Maybe not to you or our capitalist economy, but to the small business it will, and I think that’s worth something.

Any effort to shy away from shopping with big businesses is better than no effort at all. So don’t let one package discourage you or fill you with guilt.

Consumerism is not a black and white issue. Our choices are not “live off the land and make your own clothes” or “participate in the economy and support unethical practices with our every move”. Believe it or not, there is an in-between and realistically, this is what most of us should hope to accomplish. 

Take into account that you are living in the modern world where we have the privilege of buying most of our items and necessities instead of having to make them all ourselves. We are modern humans with material desires and unless you have an unwavering moral compass it’s only natural to play the role of a consumer. 

I can’t help but remember a line from Timothee Chalamet’s character in Lady Bird. In the most pretentious, “liberal arts kid” way, he says, “I’m trying as much as possible to not participate in our economy. I don’t like money. So I’m trying to live by bartering alone.” This line is meant to be absurd, but am I alone in feeling like it’s somewhat relatable?  

Set your resolutions. Set your goals. But set these with realistic expectations and remember that progress and building habits are almost never a linear process so don’t feel defeated if you decide to buy something from Amazon. Jeff Bezos is still going to suck just as much.

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