Be a conscious consumer - think before you buy
As someone who never ventures out on Black Friday and rarely goes shopping in general, I used to think that I had successfully escaped the clutches of rampant consumerism.
"Good for me," I thought, as I wore my cheaply made and ethically questionable clothing. "Thank goodness I'm reasonable," I said to myself as I tapped away on my iPhone.
A few years ago, my dad happily unveiled our new Amazon Prime subscription. Free two-day shipping, access to Amazon Prime video and music, same-day delivery — what's not to like? It felt like every product I could ever want or need was accessible with just the tap of a button.
Birthday presents? Amazon. Party decorations? Amazon. Once Amazon bought Whole Foods, even our groceries were linked to the company. The negative rumors surrounding the corporation were enough to cause some trepidation, but nine times out of 10, convenience outweighed concern.
Eventually, though, once my initial excitement wore off, Amazon's shiny veneer began to crack. An abundance of headlines cropped up about warehouse employees working themselves to the bone to meet their quotas. Within these articles were horror stories about employees suffering through injury, overheating, exhaustion and more all while under constant surveillance.
As it turns out, it's not just the employees who suffer; our demand for speedy shipping is potentially playing a role in harming the environment as well. To make all deliveries as quickly as possible, trucks cannot be packed to maximum capacity before embarking on their delivery routes. We live in a fast-paced world, but sacrificing speed (especially for goods that aren't absolutely necessary) could help our planet in the long run.
Despite sharp criticism and increasing scrutiny, Amazon is still a multibillion-dollar company whose founder is the richest person on Earth. People aren't going to stop using Amazon any time soon, but it's still worthwhile to raise at least a little more awareness and encourage putting in some thought before making a purchase.
I'm definitely still figuring out how I want to proceed in the future as a consumer. It's hard to admit that your favorite brands or stores might not be the most ethical. My wardrobe is composed of "fast fashion," rapidly produced, inexpensive clothing from stores like Forever 21 and H&M. Inconvenient as it may be, I hope to move away from these brands and do a little research before I fork over my money.
This idea of thinking before you shop is especially important and applicable during the holiday season. There's no need to feel overwhelming guilt every time you hit "place order" (if that were the case, all of us would be wallowing in remorse all the time), but a little bit of research and thought can go a long way.
Sydney Byun is a senior at Wilsonville High School.
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