Over the last year and change, I’ve dramatically reduced my Amazon usage – like from twice weekly orders to maybe once/month. I realize this is a very privileged position to be in and for many, Amazon may be the only reasonable option whether that be for price or accessibility. For me personally, I’m able to say that there are better places to shop, smaller businesses I choose to support, and I will typically go out of my way to shop elsewhere rather than give Jeff Bezos any more of our money. This is not meant as an attack on those of you who still rely on Amazon for certain things. I do still buy a few items from Amazon, and many small businesses use it as their only online storefront (we’ll get to those soon), but for those of you who are in a position to shop elsewhere, these are some of my favorite new finds.
Note: Whenever possible, please support local businesses in your area. I realize for many, particularly right now, online shopping is the easiest, most convenient, and sometimes the only option so that’s what I’m focusing on here. If you’re in Texas, my local recommendations are H.E.B., Central Market, and Hollywood Feed.
Toilet Paper & Paper Towels
I have had ongoing adventures with toilet paper triggering interstitial cystitis symptoms over the years, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I learned just how political toilet paper can be too. In a move to support smaller businesses, Black-owned businesses, better environmental practices, and ditch any support whatsoever of the ultra-rich ultra-conservative Koch family (even if just accidental), we ditched our big brand toilet paper first for Who Gives A Crap and then more recently for Reel. They’re both sustainably made from ethically sourced bamboo, free of dyes and fragrance, plastic free, and surprisingly comfortable thanks to the 3-ply design. I also did some research on bamboo vs recycled toilet paper, and the consensus seems to be that while both are good for the planet, bamboo is better for your body.
Now that they’re making paper towels too, I’ll never go back to the big brands. We’ve also dramatically cut back on our paper towel use in general by using “unpaper” washable towels for most things. I’m still very pleased with the fabric ones we purchased from Marley’s Monsters back in April.
Dish & Hand Soap, Laundry Detergent
Clothing, human, and dish cleaning products used to be far more in-store focused for us, but as we’ve switched over to more natural and minimally scented products over the last few years, it has often been a better deal to buy online and sometimes in bulk. Then 2020 showed up and said “actually, online is now your only choice, good luck finding soap in stores!” so here we are. Personally, in terms of hand soap, I am much more of a liquid kinda lady and while we’ve tried several bar soaps (including from my fave Chagrin Valley), I always want to go back to the liquid. We’ve got refillable glass dispensers which dramatically cuts down on the waste and it’s a treat to be able to buy everything in one place – it used to be Costco for one thing, local grocery for another, Target for a third.
The winner these days, repeatedly, has been Grove Collaborative. Laundry detergent, hand soap refills, dish soap refills, dishwasher detergent, my very nifty laundry detergent dispenser, and my upgraded glass soap dispensers have all come from Grove over the last year so I suppose it’s time to admit that I’m both pleased and impressed. We’ve also cut out dryer sheets entirely, both from Amazon and elsewhere, by switching to wool dryer balls. They’re fantastic and last forever – I just replaced our set for the first time after buying a pack nearly three years ago. When we first moved to Texas, Grove very kindly replaced an order I accidentally shipped it to our old address in Oregon, so I suppose I’ve got an extra soft spot for that good good customer service too.
Dog Food, Toys, Supplies
Admittedly a big part of the switch to no longer buying dog food on Amazon is that we have gone back to feeding Franklin a raw food that arrives frozen so it’s quite literally just not an option available from Jeff, but once we stopped getting our food there everything else seemed to follow.
What we can’t get from our local fave Hollywood Feed (who very kindly order Franklin’s food for us from Oregon), there’s Chewy which we’ve grown quite fond of for the favorite toy, the paw wipes, and the supplements. For the…other end of things, we’ve been looking to the very-cute Boba & Vespa for biodegradable and plastic-free poo bags (they have some toys and cat stuff too!)
Maybe a less likely one for some of y’all, but I’ve been slowly moving away from the big brand wound care options for a while now. Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve has been our go-to for balms and salves, and I discovered Welly last year for all our bandage needs. A few of you may know this already, but my skin is annoyingly sensitive to adhesive – particularly the kind in medical tape and Band-Aids, so I immediately latched on to the whole Welly ~aesthetic~ and their Comfy Covers silicone adhesive bandages.
I’m also big fan of the Welly Face Saver clear hydrocolloid bandages, which are fantastic for acne! From Chagrin Valley, this household goes through a lot of the Calendula Salve – a natural balm that we use constantly for cuts, burns, tattoo healing, and every other injurious mishap – and I’ve got a tin of their Chickweed Salve on its way to me; it’s supposed to help with bug bites and I’m honestly covered in ’em.
Blankets & Bedding
This is probably the newest departure from Amazon for Nick and me as things can get pretty pricey with a king size bed (we treated ourselves to the upgrade shortly after bringing Franklin home, for obvious reasons). There’s now an added layer to this whole bedding situation of living in Texas and me having absolutely no tolerance for being hot at night!
We recently splurged on a wildly luxurious waffle knit blanket from environmentally conscious and human rights focused Boll & Branch. We have no regrets. That blanket has been absolutely fantastic for both my overnight overheating and sensory processing preferences (it’s a really nice texture, is what I’m trying to say) and was absolutely worth the coins.
Next on the list is a fresh set of sheets in an ultra-cooling fabric like TENCEL/lyocell or eucalyptus. We haven’t tried them yet, but when we’re ready, are most likely to buy from one of these three:
Sheets & Giggles Eucalyptus
West Elm TENCEL
Buffy Eucalyptus or Hemp
Ah, saved the best for last. Not buying books on Amazon was a non-negotiable “resolution” I set for myself for 2020 and I have absolutely zero regrets. There’s been a few moments of frustration when we know just how cheap books are on Amazon, but it only takes a second to remind myself the repercussions of that. Me saving a few dollars is not a good enough deal to support businesses where warehouse employees are working in deplorable conditions while small businesses are being forced to shut down. As much as possible, I try to support local businesses like BookPeople, BookWoman, and Black Pearl Books. Thankfully, when in-store shopping is not an option, or when I want an audiobook, I can still support my local indie bookstores through the brilliant Libro.fm. For everything else, I’m a huge fan of Bookshop.org. Both Libro.fm and Bookshop partner with independent bookstores so while you are shopping through the larger site, you are able to pick the bookstore of your choice to receive the profits from your purchases. It’s a really excellent way to support your local indies and BIPOC/BIWOC-owned bookstores across the country. If you’re really a big reader, there’s also the Book of the Month subscription which I’ve been playing with recently.
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