Amazon is the leading online sales store serving over 100 million customers. What is the psychological effect on this large amount of consumers? When we buy items on Amazon, we see ourselves as efficient and thrifty. We can get all of our errands done without leaving our couch which seems efficient, but may actually be laziness. The less we leave our homes to interact with our communities, the more isolated we will become because of Amazon’s convenience. As humans, we yearn for convenience, but we are quickly becoming homebodies with little care for where goods are coming from, simply content that they appear on our doorstep in a day or two.
Many online companies, including Amazon, also makes its consumers feel like they are getting a great deal by tapping into consumer psychology. By using the word “free shipping,” consumers feel a greater urge to buy more, thinking that they are getting a deal when, in reality, they are paying for items that they don’t need. This isn’t to say that physical stores don’t use the same psychology on consumers, but I believe that the effects of using the word “free” are even more impactful at an online store like Amazon. This is because the consumer doesn’t comprehend the number of items that they are purchasing because they aren’t physically in their shopping cart. It’s much too easy for consumers to be manipulated on Amazon, which leads to an unhealthy cycle of shopping in bulk that too many Americans fall victim too.
Another problem with Amazon that is oftentimes overlooked by the media is the dangerous environmental impact caused by Amazon packaging. The first thing that we do when we receive a package from Amazon is ripping through the cardboard box and the plastic packaging. But how did the package get to our doorstep? Trucks and planes clog up roads, polluting the air. After we receive the package, we throw away the packaging which clogs up recycling centers around the country. According to the Washington Post, Amazon’s new light-weight plastic packages are equivalent to plastic bags and are unable to be sorted at recycling centers. After the holidays, recycling centers are flooded with a massive influx of cardboard and plastic from Amazon. The Amazon packaging that doesn’t end up clogging a recycling center, is most likely thrown into a landfill.
So how do we make our consumer habits healthier? One idea is to limit the number of items that you buy on Amazon in order to reduce the packaging that is thrown in the trash. Another idea is to shop at local stores that are environmentally friendly. The state of Connecticut has recently passed a required tax on plastic bags which is a great way to encourage customers to bring reusable bags when shopping. Bringing your own reusable bag to shop locally is a much more eco-friendly way to shop than ordering multiple packages on Amazon and wasting the packaging. Although it may not be as convenient to leave your couch to do your errands, it is a great way to support businesses in your community instead of supporting a multi-billion dollar company that harms the environment.