Our Amazon Boycott And How It Influenced Our New Start-Up
An Amazon Boycott Driving A Start-Up On A Mission
Amazon Market Place- you can’t fault the convenience these guys have instilled in almost every corner of our planet. Sign up to Amazon Prime, and you can now get your new items delivered to your door by the same evening, free of charge (or at least by the next day). Me and my fiancée, Amy, would buy everything from Amazon- we were hooked.
Believe it or not, we’re not actually trying to sell their services to you. Quite the opposite for that matter. It became apparent (around 2 years ago) that with all this convenience must come a cost. Yes, we could get everything that we wanted super-fast, at prices you would struggle to match anywhere else; but with our choice to buy cheap and at the most convenient every single time, no other retailer, online or on the high street, would ever get a look in.
Say we weren’t alone in our shopping habits, buying fast and cheap off Amazon. Say other people actually do this too (yes- so many people do). Fast forward a few more years and the outlook of our already bleak looking retail on the high street will be cast into oblivion. It will likely be home only to a few restaurants, charity shops (hopefully) and coffee shops (queue Starbucks takeover). So our Amazon boycott commences…
Amazon Boycott For More Ethical & Eco Retailers
We pledged to stop buying goods from Amazon about 18 months before we started our company. As we became more aware of the amount of single-use plastics from supermarkets and most retailers, so came a realisation how much unnecessary packaging waste comes with every single order from Amazon. This came at a time when Amazon also favoured the infamous zero-hour contracts. They also made mainstream news when hundreds of their unsupported and unengaged employees came forward and blew the whistle on awful working conditions within the company. We decided we didn’t want to support a business that promotes such disregard to our environment and to their ethical obligations. So we started an Amazon boycott and opted to shop at and promote more sustainable retailers and brands that shared our same values.
We both noticed more and more of these brands on Instagram advocating the way of living we hoped to live by. As we started trying to live more sustainably, we noticed there were lots of others out there that had awesome ideas and products to help us out on our journey. We started following them and sharing their inspiring ideas. It was like there was a buzz around the subject as more people shared their ideas for a more sustainable lifestyle, and there was a genuine movement of people trying to live more ethically and sustainably.
These inspiring brands often came in the form of small, new businesses, and we started to shop with the little guys to support them wherever we could. It always seemed like the small guys trying to break through that had the strongest set of values. Often with a genuine motivation to want to help clean up this mess we've all been creating for so long. And we loved them.
A great inspirational blog previously used to write a lot of awesome content that really opened our eyes to living more ethically. Unfortunately, they have removed a lot of this content, but you can still find motivational pieces over there now.
Believe it or not, we never started our new ethical and eco-conscious company in spite of Amazon and their world domination. It wasn’t like there was a lightbulb moment that pinged on and we thought we would take on the online beast. No. Friendly Turtle came from a genuine desire to want to help reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic and waste that’s a by-product of just about everyone’s life at the minute.
The first beginnings were when Amy and I tried to reduce our own environmental footprint; reducing the amount of waste we had going to landfill and trying to look after our oceans, environment and climates health a little better.
Queue the birth of Friendly Turtle...
We felt inspired by the amount of eco and ethical brands on the market and we jumped at an opportunity to try and help others on the same journey we had made. I built our website whilst Amy reached out to these brands with the possibility of stocking their products. It was very exciting and very daunting, with a very sharp learning curve and lists to the ceiling of things we had to get done.
Positive Progress Sticking True To Our Values
We’re now Four months into our new business venture, and really pleased with the momentum and feedback we’ve had. We’re growing our customer base, and our product catalogue grows each week. Everything from reusable coffee cups and eco friendly lunch boxes, to organic skincare and eco friendly gifts. We also donate 10% of all profits to Surfers Against Sewage and their battle to clean up our oceans and beaches. Scuba diving is a passion of ours, and we've seen some pretty nasty stuff floating around in our oceans in our time- so these guys resonated with us.
We still continue our Amazon boycott. We’re building our customer base and growing sales completely independent of the Amazon Seller platform, but we still find their demons lurking around that cause us no end of moral dilemmas. The biggest problem with a new start-up e-commerce shop is driving traffic to your website and getting your products in front of new customers. Trust us, we know how difficult this is initially (and moving forward). Part of our process when searching for new products and brands to work with is reviewing their ethical and environmental values. If we believe they’re working towards something meaningful and doing so in a responsible way, then it’s a match and we reach out to stock their products! The problem that we so often see, is there are lots of new and exciting brands out there that have these awesome products, and great eco-credentials, but they operate on Amazon as a means to sell more and more. Of course you can’t blame anyone for wanting to increase sales and profits- we wouldn’t be here if we were turning over a loss. But with an eco-conscious brand wanting to promote their sustainable, natural and ethical products, we can't help questioning how serious they are with their values if they choose to support a company such as Amazon by working through their channel?
We are faced with this dilemma at least twice a week now- we find an inspiring brand selling an incredible product which ticks off all of the right environmental boxes. BUT…they’re selling through Amazon. What do we do? Of course we want to stock their product because we love it and believe our customers would love it too but are we then indirectly damaging our own commitments by supporting a brand that’s supporting a brand with no eco or ethical values what-so-ever? It's a toughy!
What Do You Think Of Our Amazon Boycott?
Even after 2 years of avoiding shopping on Amazon; after setting up a new company and selling online completely independent of Amazon, we are still faced with ethical decisions concerning these guys. We can’t get away from them. We’re not continuing our Amazon boycott because they are competition- we believe there’s room for all of us in this world and we love to see other companies succeed along with us. The issue for us is that we want to support the companies and brands that advocate a good, clean set of values. By shopping with the ones that don’t, we’re somehow giving them a nod of approval for the way they carry out their business- and we believe Amazon still has so much more to do in this area!
We would LOVE to hear your views and opinions on the topic. It can be quite a controversial topic at times, but we are genuinely interested in what other people think on the matter. Is Amazon doing enough to support our fragile environment, and is it worth boycotting them for? Thanks for reading!