I gave up online shopping as my New Year's resolution. It was a kickback against the boxes, the stuff, the hours sucked up browsing for essentials...oh and non-essentials. It's been liberating! Good for me, good for the local economy, good for the environment. Here's why:
- I shop in REAL SHOPS. I talk to people. I try things on, pick things up and see how they feel. I have a much more satisfying shopping experience. The baby in a buggy is admittedly somewhat of a hindrance but often he's asleep. Or he makes a good effort to charm shopkeepers - the grocer gave him a free punnet of strawberries today. Result!
- My local shopping boosts the local economy, supporting our high street and the nearby cathedral town. I will be the first to lament the demise of the high street. How could I seriously do that while pouring money into Amazon?
- I bring things home in a tote and save on packaging. No more huge boxes inexplicably cocooning tiny items, polystyrene or plastic bubble wrap littering our house or piling up next to the bins.
- I am helping keep our air clean. Diesel courier vans are now significant contributors to air pollution and traffic. My daily "one-click" deliveries certainly weren't helping! And while delivery vans may be doing multiple drop offs, in fact they aren't saving people a journey. Everyone still likes to pop to the shops to look at things whether they later decide to buy them online or not!
- I buy a lot less. I don't add in a little extra something to get free postage. I don't see something I like in a magazine and immediately check whether it's in stock, before I've thought about how much I really need it. I only buy what I can carry or shove in the bottom of the buggy.
- We make do. Last year, as soon as a child was looking like she or he was growing out of something, I had searched the internet, found the next size up and got the size up after that in case. They can actually live in things a lot longer, even with a stain or a broken zip. They can wait a week or a month till we can get to the right shop and try something on.
- I save a lot of time. I don't have a quick browse on Asos of an evening, discovering I've then lost an hour of my life... I don't make a weekly trip to the post office, standing in the queue with my returns parcels. Even the post office guy was starting to give me a look, "not more bloody returns..." And we could all do with more time right?
- I can still get what I want. I ask our local shops to order items in for me. Books, clothes. It takes a couple of days but, you know what, that's ok. I very rarely actually need something IMMEDIATELY.
- I can check the quality for myself, the perfect present that won't arrive ripped or damaged but has been carefully transported home. Something special might catch my eye that I wasn't expecting. The purchase itself can be a special memory, where I was, who with, why I liked it. I discovered at Christmas that there is something soulless about choosing a child's first teddy bear online, reading reviews, checking wash instructions. So much better to go and pick it up and check its cuddleability and smiley expression for yourself.
- It doesn't cost me more. Real life shops give you discounts and freebies too. You can use loyalty cards. You don't pay postage and you only buy what you really like and/or need.
Online shopping seems like the quick and easy option but I don't think it really is. It feeds the sense that we need more stuff to make us secure, happy, prepared and it's only a click away. The anticipation of exciting parcels in the post. It can be really addictive...
Why not give old-fashioned real shopping a go? Take control. You might like it!
- Recycle the online catalogues without opening them. Don't lay yourself open to temptation!!! Even better, unsubscribe from mailing lists and return unsolicited mail.
- Support shops you like, especially independent ones! If a local shop isn't welcoming, don't grace them with your purchasing power. A local children's wear shop (which will remain nameless!) is infamous for being unfriendly to local shoppers. They were very happy to order in a onesie in my son's size when they didn't haven't it in stock but wanted to charge me postage! IN A SHOP. Won't be going back there again! But I will be going to the places which are friendly, helpful, hold the door open and go that extra mile.
- Even if you reduce online ordering a bit, this can be a life changer. My other half still orders things online and if we really can't get something essential somewhere else, like a piece of uniform, he orders it. But the key thing is, I don't end up surfing the website for an hour, ordering 10 bits of uniform in various sizes, just because I imagine we will be more prepared, when we only actually needed one ;)