This holiday season, let’s cut back on our Amazon shopping. Jeff Bezos is already rich enough. (Image Courtesy of Author)
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Visiting News Reporter
With over 150 million subscribers worldwide, Amazon has become ubiquitous with online shopping. The coronavirus pandemic forced us all to social distance inside our homes, and many people turned to online shopping retailers like Amazon as their primary source of goods. Amazon is convenient, cheap, and has almost anything you could think of available with just the click of your mouse. Despite these obvious benefits, buying from Amazon means supporting unethical business practices and growing Jeff Bezos’s enormous wealth. So this holiday season, let’s cut back on our Amazon shopping.
Amazon is very close to becoming a monopoly for internet sales. Amazon sales account for almost 50% of all online sales and five percent of all retail across the United States. Amazon’s business model prices out small companies, driving them into bankruptcy. In most states, Amazon is exempt from collecting sales tax. Though this sometimes benefits the consumer, it gives the corporation an advantage over competitors. The company is not just limited to the Amazon that we know but is constantly acquiring other companies. Jeff Bezos also owns Whole Foods, Ring, Twitch, and even The Washington Post.
Amazon supports police surveillance. In 2018 Amazon bought the home security company Ring.
The company has been criticized by many civil rights groups for organizing secretive deals with police departments all over the United States. Amazon executive Dave Limp has publicly hinted that in the future Ring security cameras could use Amazon’s facial recognition software. For the most part, this technology is unregulated and studies have shown that even some of the most advanced facial recognition software misidentify black people at rates much higher than they misidentify white people. Amazon Echo devices also have a universal back door which means that Amazon can use them as full-time listening devices at any time. Santa Claus is not the only one watching us when we are sleeping anymore (Bezos is that you?).
Amazon exploits its workers. Warehouse workers have claimed that they do not have access to toilets when they are working and drivers have claimed that they feel pressured to drive recklessly in order to fulfill their deliveries. Not only this, but Amazon has pushed the deaths and injuries of warehouse workers under the rug. In 2017, Phillip Lee Terry, a warehouse worker in Indiana, was crushed by a forklift he was improperly trained to operate. In 2018, 24 Amazon workers were injured and hospitalized after a can of bear spray was punctured by a robotic arm and in 2019 a worker died on the job from a heart attack, laying on the floor for twenty whole minutes before they were given medical attention. Is this the sort of business you really want to support this holiday season?
There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. But if you are able and have the time and resources this holiday season, spend your money somewhere more ethical. Shop second-hand or make a homemade gift. Regifting is both sustainable and free! Jeff Bezos is already worth 205.5 billion dollars. He does not need more money. No one likes an Ebenezer Scrooge.
Melanie Moyer '22,