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Trying to quit Amazon - alternatives please

 
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego, USA | Zone 10a | Mediterranean drylands | 10" precip
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Edward Norton wrote:
7) Well done for getting this far - I’m also trying to degoogle my life and nearly there . . . But that’s another story



I'm slowly "coming clean" (to borrow Catherine Austin Fitts' expression), and that includes the practices you've mentioned (stop funding your own destruction!)

I just built my own de-googled phone, and will sell my old iPhone (at a profit!) It's always a pain to switch from one operating system to the other (windows->mac, android->ios, windows->linux etc.) but this was straightforward.

More about what a "degoogled phone" is: https://techaeris.com/2021/08/18/concerned-with-privacy-on-your-mobile-device-a-degoogled-phone-might-be-for-you/

Let me know if anyone is interested in hearing more or has had their own experiences with these. I will document my adventures.

 
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Location: Cache Valley, Northern Utah (zone 6a, 4,900 elevation)
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Rob Braxman brax.me is another source for de-googled phones. He offers instructions for those wishing to tackle this self-serve, and also sells de-googled phones.

We are also taking active steps to "stop funding our own destruction" and embracing everything LOCAL.
 
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Edward Norton wrote: There’s almost as much packaging as produce and often lots of plastic bubblewrap. I have no issue with misshapen produce but I’d often get heavily damaged and subsequently rotten produce. The selection was a way, way less interesting than advertised. The added extras available during the ‘top up’ window were mostly sold out even if I went on the site a soon as the email arrived.



My Misfits Produce Box arrived safe and sound and on the day it was planned.

I spent abt $29.00 and got 25 lbs of food, of course, that also included the weight of the cold pack and shipping supplies.

I am still thrilled as every item was superb.  

The only plastic was a bag like at the store for grapes, a bag to contain the brussels sprouts, and the baby broccoli.  Everything else was paper.

I am putting aside the veggies that will keep longer and eating or freezing the more perishables.

The grapes are so good, it has been a long time since I had grapes.
 
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Jan White wrote:Would anyone buying from Walmart as an alternative to Amazon mind sharing what they think is better about Walmart? I was avoiding Walmart long before Amazon, so I'm curious.



Same question here. In 2019 Amazon surpassed Walmart as the biggest retailer on the planet. So why is Walmart better???

I do like Etsy and have only had good experiences there. But only items I'm ordering are usually handmade or vintage, so premium price and usually a shipping fee. You preset your address and credit card, so before you click for your purchase, you need to check out where the item is being shipped from as they are an international company. One, shipping could be outrageous from the other side of the world...not to mention a silly concept when you might find the same but US made--or do you Really need that item, gift, etc. flown to you?

Yes, I use Amazon to get by in a very rural area. Not sure why some people wear a halo if they don't use Amazon but do shop at the local crappy dollar stores which is full of cheaply made, usually toxic smelling stuff, oftentimes label knockoffs you may not be aware of (many a study has proven this with aspirin, etc.), with poorly paid staff hired part time so they don't have to pay benefits. I'm a huge fan of vintage, used or consignment stores. Closest two small cities with retail stores are 2 hours away--so a 4 hour round trip. Each had a total of about a dozen of these used item stores. All of them went under in the first 3 months of covid. We do have spring and summer garage sales here. And you can buy poorly made clothes, etc. at them. And all of it is used leftovers from the crappy dollar store because it is, literally, the only general store in our tiny local hamlet.

I live a good life in the fresh air with clean well water up in the mountains, have wonderful caring friends here, am good to Mother Earth, grow all my own veges...but I will never ever learn to sew my own clothes, throw my own pottery for plates and bowls, print my own books, make my own paper, hammer my own silverware and pots and pans, hunt and kill animals to make my own leather to make my own shoes, or...  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
 
gardener
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Anne Miller wrote:My Misfits Produce Box arrived safe and sound and on the day it was planned.

I spent abt $29.00 and got 25 lbs of food, of course, that also included the weight of the cold pack and shipping supplies.

I am still thrilled as every item was superb.  



Yay! That’s great news Anne - I’m so happy for you and relieved after my negative experience.
 
Edward Norton
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Very good points Molly. I’m mellowing as I get older, trying not to turn into a cranky single minded old fool! Holding on to the idea of 100% of anything can put a huge amount of unnecessary stress and burden on yourself and those closest to you. I discovered this trying to go zero waste. Cutting my waste by 80% was easy and then every 1% after that was really, really hard. So I aim for 80% organic and don’t beat myself up for not kitting 100%. I actually buy meat from restorative farms where everything is pasture raised but they’re too small to jump through all the expensive hoops to be certified organic. We all have to make the best discussion we can with the facts we have at our disposal (and ask here). I’m just down the road from one of Amazons largest distribution depots. For example: I get through a lot of bread flour and after starting a converstion here “Searching for awesome bread flour” I settled on King Arthur. I buy in bulk, so I could get it shipped from Vermont via couriers or it could come a few miles from the depot down the road.

I love that last paragraph!

Molly Gordon wrote:
I live a good life in the fresh air with clean well water up in the mountains, have wonderful caring friends here, am good to Mother Earth, grow all my own veges...but I will never ever learn to sew my own clothes, throw my own pottery for plates and bowls, print my own books, make my own paper, hammer my own silverware and pots and pans, hunt and kill animals to make my own leather to make my own shoes, or...  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.



A good reminder that I shouldn’t try and do everything . . . I’ve been working on a lot of PEP badges. I love working with my hands and making things and it’s easy for me to get carried away.
 
gardener
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Great discussion.  Thanks for kicking it off Edward  Our local  Chamber of Commerce has been asked to support the establishment of a Growers' Network.  The aim is that the community will have access to fresh fruit and vegetables by either growing them, bartering or buying from a growers' market.  They will also work towards growing to order so the local eating establishments can also be a part of the program.  The instigator/ leader has completed an introduction to permaculture course and is completing another course at Milkwood here in central NSW Australia.

Her idea is that there will be a central garden and meeting area and individual gardeners can join groups who help each other in their gardens.  It means that our community will have access.
When it is up and running, the expressed aim is that we will have a healthier community.  Our local Supermarket has shown it will buy local if the supply is there.

We have a local buy swap and sell site on Facebook which is very useful as well as a few shops that sell hand crafted foods.  But ......  I am very happy hiding a gallon of ice cream in the freezer.🤣   My trying to quit is Ebay as well as amazon.  Best postage rates win most of the time unfortunately.  Thank goodness for Permies, I look to see if  can make it.  Broke my mallet last week so will do the BB instead of buying a new one.

 
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Definitely an excellent discussion. I do use Amazon to explore product options and read reviews. That's helpful. But I've also learned to hunt the brand's website. I've discovered that I can often get the same product there at a lower price. And they often offer free shipping too. It seems that sellers have to raise their prices to offer their products on Amazon to cover their seller' fees, so buying directly through their website is often the better bargain.
 
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Edward Norton wrote:
1) Don’t buy stuff in the first place


easier said than done, but the best first step! I found the following, clipped/pasted/printed on postcard stock, and keep one in front of my computer screen and one folded around my cash in my wallet, to help me pause before buying.  When that isn't enough, I revisit articles I've saved about what our plastic footprint is doing to the planet, and that lends weight to doing without.  doesn't ALWAYS work, but more often than not.  
dontbuy.jpg
[Thumbnail for dontbuy.jpg]
 
Posts: 96
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Anne Miller wrote:
Have you thought of joining Sams Club or Costco?

I don't know about Costco though Sams Club has a membership that offers free shipping.

I order from Walmart, Dollar General, and from various options.



But Walmart, Dollar General and other discount stores still don't have local items and are exploiting overseas labor, as well as competing with and often eliminating local businesses and US manufacturing.
I don't really have a solution but I don't think Walmart and Dollar General are good alternatives to Amazon.
 
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If something breaks, instead of replacing it I go to my local Repair Cafe.  It is a fun day out and my item is usually fixed.

(I use canvas drop cloths for curtains, they look really nice and let light some through.  Just make sure it is not flame resistant as then it would have been chemically treated.)

I like to comfort shop too but luckily I am also extremely frugal.  I find if I need something and I go shopping for it, I will never find it or I will overspend when I do... but if I give myself time once in awhile to head over to walk Restore or Salvation Army, I can pick up a some very useful items that were made decades ago when things were built to last.  I like that my money is going to their charitable work.

I shopped for my first time on Mercari.com  To narrow my search I typed in "linen" as it is my favorite material to wear in the summer and "ships free".  Ordered a linen shirt with a small ink stain for $5  (I can embroider a small flower over the ink stain).  I didn't need the shirt now but it will mean one less purchase I'll make next Summer.  I like shopping materials.  I can shop a thrift store with my eyes closed feeling down the rack until I find something cashmere, linen or down filled

Craigslist Free and Facebook Marketplace Free are also great, so many of the 100% wool rugs in my home were free as when people move they find their rugs don't alway fit their new space and to move in they need them out of the way fast.

Freecycle.org is great too.  You can post what you need and someone who has one to give they will contact you.  I did this once as I needed a compost bin.  An hour later I had one in the back of my car.

Another way I shop is if I find I need something expensive or that I could never afford, I type "DIY and the item" into Google search bar, then I hit images. So many ideas and videos come up so searching by images gets me to the source I want much faster.  Even if I do not make the item myself it gives me ideas on alternatives.  This is actually how I got the idea for my business selling DIY mattress kits!  
 
M Wilcox
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Jay Angler wrote:Seriously, I agree that for many people and in many situations, "not buying stuff" is a challenge. However, developing a system where you force yourself to make a pro/cons/cost/benefit analysis, and possibly set yourself a time limit of "I will review this analysis in 3 days and not buy before then" .



I "shop" on Amazon, reading reviews and choosing the best items, then I put them in my "save for later" list. Then I leave them there for days, weeks or sometimes even months. Once in awhile I review my saved list and if there's something in there that I've realized I can't live without, I attempt to buy it from the manufacturer or another website that sells it. However, it doesn't always work out for me to do that and I end up buying it from Amazon anyway. At least I try to minimize my Amazon purchases.
 
Anne Miller
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Anne Miller wrote:Have you thought of joining Sams Club or Costco? I don't know about Costco though Sams Club has a membership that offers free shipping. I order from Walmart, Dollar General, and from various options.



M Wilcox wrote:[But Walmart, Dollar General and other discount stores still don't have local items and are exploiting overseas labor, as well as competing with and often eliminating local businesses and US manufacturing.
I don't really have a solution but I don't think Walmart and Dollar General are good alternatives to Amazon.



M Wilcox, as I explained those were only options other than eBay and Amazon.

I have always believed in buying local.  I only buy online when it is necessary.  And I buy where it is the cheapest.

When a person lives 30 miles to the nearest gas station and the only local options are Dollar General or Dollar Tree then what would you suggest that I do?

Other than Dollar General my only option to buy clothes is at the local feed store.  I just can't see paying designer prices to have something to wear while pulling weeds

I have only bought toilet paper from Dollar General online.  

The only items that I have bought online from Walmart are a swing hoe and a campstool. Things dear hubby wanted.

BTW, I looked on Amazon for hamburger buns and hot dog buns.  Something that I can buy at the local Dollar General for $1.00 was $27.95 or something like that on Amazon.  I wouldn't mind paying $3.00 plus $6.00 shipping for buns if I could find that as an option.  I would rather bake my own buns if dear hubby would eat them.  He is just like some people's picky kids.
 
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Since fruits and vegetables are apparently things that people are trying to find a source for, I'm surprised nobody mentioned farmers' markets. Most farmers markets have almost everything you need if you can't yet grow your own. And you're supporting very small, very local farms and other businesses such as soap makers, etc. Sure, you spend a bit more but you usually get much higher quality. And it saves you all that time online. All you have to do is be at the market for a few hours on Saturday morning.

As for the other things that you can't get at farmers markets or can't grow and make yourself, we often do without them, or buy at a thrift shop as many have already mentioned. When we move to a new location, we try to quickly find the bargain and liquidation stores, thrift shops, and small hardware stores that still provide service. Then we regularly shop there to do our part to keep them in business. Shopping in small towns saves a lot of time since you don't have to drive to the shopping centre and walk the long distances in the parking lot and even inside the store (why would anyone prefer to shop at Costco or Walmart?!) In small town stores you can quickly grab your things (if they have them) and spend the free time in the garden. And the time saved by not shopping so much online can be spent growing and making your herbal preparations so you don't have to go to the drug store anymore. Or learning to make your own soap, which is really quite easy. We grow or make almost everything which means we don't have to spend much time shopping anymore. Even with very limited land base, you can already start learning how to make things yourself and grow herbs in a window box or patio. I know learning takes time, but it's worth it. (And learning directly from a neighbor is so much more satisfying than learning online, if you can make those connections!)

As for hoarding, it sure is an asset to have a country property with space for a shed where you can have a resource base in storage. Auctions can be a great place to gather resources which can be dipped into when needed for your net project. Hoarding has to be controlled, I know, but I believe we're not wise to chuck everything that we aren't using if we might need it again in a few months. I especially like to have raw materials on hand to build and make things with. Then instead of going to Amazon, I just have to go to the shed and build what I need.

Probably some of this sounds a little too idealistic to some of you that don't yet have access to a substantial land base and haven't yet acquired all the skills needed to do things yourself. But hopefully you'll be encouraged to keep going in that direction!
 
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Anne Miller wrote:When I order stuff from our local hardware/lumber store, I call and ask for the manager.  Then the manager takes my order and tells me when the item will be at the store.


I've done this a few times where I discovered the shop owner would pull up the exact website I was considering ordering an item from myself. All I was doing was wasting gas to go to a store and pay an extra 'middle man'.

On the other hand, the store's return policy might make this worth it, or you might want to give business to them if they are good people and offer other other beneficial services.

On the other other hand, if there are other stores in the area, make sure you aren't taking business away from a more robust brick n mortor store and giving it to a front for some online mega marketer...

Man, this economic stuff gets complex, glad to have access to other permie brains to help...
 
pollinator
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Lynne Cim wrote:

Another way I shop is if I find I need something expensive or that I could never afford, I type "DIY and the item" into Google search bar, then I hit images. So many ideas and videos come up so searching by images gets me to the source I want much faster.  Even if I do not make the item myself it gives me ideas on alternatives.  This is actually how I got the idea for my business selling DIY mattress kits!  



I too search using DIY.  But do tell more about your DIY mattress kit business!!!

We use Etsy frequently.  I like to support the makers there and we use it as an online shop for our herbal products.  Our website links to there instead of selling via the website.  The items get more traffic there.  
I don't like Amazon either, on principle...but boxes show up on my doorstep far too often and easily.  My mom's TV remote died, for example, and I can't get that from Etsy.  
We are lucky to have some stellar farm markets and regenerative farms that open a shop once a week here in NE Ohio.  Meats and veggies aren't usually an issue.  Stuff is.
 
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I feel your pain but there is hope... We buy from walmart online now they are better then ever because you can get stuff delivered straight to the house or delivered. We bought the $99 a year grocery It is awesome. They have lots of organic and very nice prices.

I also support my local farmers. I found some awesome places to buy local food. you just have to google and call to find out what they have.

I also do a lot of Christmas shopping on etsy. I have found so many nice people and cool unique things there and supplies there. I also find people mail out pretty fast. I think this is a nice place to give your money to small business ratter then big.

I also make lots of my own presents now and I have realized that more of my friends and family like this better. You will find it more rewarding to challenge yourself to make new things. You can go on pintrest or etsy to find ideas.  I have been lampworking glass for 25+ years and I have found it hard to find places to sell my craft. No one understand the time and effort because we are so use to cheap stuff from China... sad but true.. Anyway   Sometimes I come across someone that really appreciates my work and understands how hard it is to do.

that being said we have also cut down on spending and started to invest in our house. We did a lot on fixing and adding some cool things. that we got locally.

example: we build alot of raised garden beds out of pallet wood and wood neighbors didn't want anymore. We also built an out door sink for the garden that we bought locally off craigslist.  

We have bought also from lowes and home depot to build an outside kitchen, shower and outdoor lighting.

So you have options some maybe outside the box but some you might find much more rewarding and say why didn't I do this sooner..

anyway I hope this helps.. We have been very pleased with our new way of buying and I'm sure you will be too... and also adding we use instacart to get food delivered when we didn't want to go out because of covid. it saved so much time we ended using it and walmart all the time.

And you can check here for local artist work under

https://permies.com/t/60/129796/sell-Christmas-Presents#1329103   I'm on the fifth page with glass beads and jewelry. Very talented people here.. check it out

go luck :)




Edward Norton wrote:Pre-amble - this is a rant about how hard it is not to use Amazon when you’re fresh off the boat in New Jersey, USA. It’s not required reading for you to post awesome practical alternatives to Amazon.

A bit of background - I moved to New Jersey in the USA from Singapore two years ago, before that I lived in the UK.

I came here with high hopes. I would shop locally supporting the local economy. I would shop organic or better. I wouldn’t default to Amazon.

Well, shopping locally is a joke. I’m surrounded by strip malls, hairdressers, nail-bars and coffee shops. The pandemic and floods shut the few independent shop keepers.

For food shopping, if I want to buy organic, it’s wrapped in plastic and grown thousands of miles away. A new grocers opened near by, they call themselves ‘Green Way Market’ and will ‘focus on delivering fresh, natural foods and organics, gluten-free products as well as traditional groceries’. Total BS . . . Ten shelves of fruit and veg and one shelf of mostly plastic wrapped organic with little or no variety, seasonality or choice - zero focus.

So I end up shopping at Wholefoods which is owned by Amazon. It’s far from perfect but their choice for organic is excellent, hardly anything is wrapped in plastic and I can bring my own veg bags.

Now I am fortunate that I’m married to a high achieving workaholic who gets paid a descent salary. We want to buy our own place but turned up with a zero credit score. In the US, everything to do with your finances is linked to credit scores. The higher your score, the cheaper products become, you get more choice and more availability. The scoring system is opaque. There are guild-lines which we followed. You need some history - ideally more than two years, which is why we had to rent for two years - no mortgages available for zero credit score. You also have to have a lot of credit available and then not use it. This is a bit of a catch 22 as you need a credit score to get a credit card. We solved this buy preloading a card and then the agencies think you’re spending against the banks money not your own. The only exception was Wholefoods who not only gave me a card, gave me a huge limit and I get 5% back every time I shop with them. And it’s an Amazon owned business.

Today I spent ages trying to find material for home made curtains. It was fruitless and I ended up sending out a plea here which has solved my problem because this place is inhabited by awesome people! I put up some examples of my findings which were all Amazon and the suggestion was to not use Amazon . . . Which got me thinking and now writing.

I really wish it was that easy. And Amazon is soooo easy.

So these are my alternatives to Amazon:
1) Don’t buy stuff in the first place, which for me is a bit like saying, don’t eat that half tub of ice-cream in the freezer.
2) Ask here, which makes me feel a bit guilty. I have spent times in forums that questions like that get links to a patronising site explaining how use google.
3) Etsy
4) Spend a fruitless morning / afternoon cycling twenty miles to a new area to discover the shop you researched is a great disappointment, inexplicably closed that day or no longer exists.
5) Make it yourself - but that can lead you straight back to Amazon
6) Move - yep - that’s what I’m doing. I’ve done a huge amount of research and found a walkable town in NY state with proper independent shops.
7) Well done for getting this far - I’m also trying to degoogle my life and nearly there . . . But that’s another story
8) Start a thread on Permies asking for Amazon Alternatives! Please post away . . .

 
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These are pretty much the only places I buy things from:

Thrift stores
Habitat for humanity ReStores
CSA box
Farmers markets
Craigslist
Ebay
Local Facebook selling groups for city/county
Nextdoor sale page
Grocery Outlet
Ross Dress for Less
 
pollinator
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Great thread!  I try to avoid Amazon, Walmart and the other big businesses.  We're in a rural area too but here are some things that work for us.

*  We have a membership to Costco, which is an hour and a half for us but worth it for stocking up on organic staples for our big family.

*  If I see something I like on Amazon, I search for the item on eBay to find an independent seller.  They tend to sell the same things for the same prices and the shipping is generally just as fast if you click to only search US sellers.  Since feedback is so crucial on eBay, sellers also tend to work hard to please you as opposed to Amazon where these days the sellers just rack up fake reviews and then create a new account once enough real (bad) reviews come in.

*  We also buy from Misfits Market.  We've been buying from them for about a year and for the most part I'm happy though the prices are higher lately and there are sometimes issues (for instance, in really cold weeks we've had damaged produce here in MN if it sat in a truck overnight and got frozen).  They are quick to refund bad produce though, especially if you comment on their Facebook page in the comments (do that if you don't get a good resolution from just clicking on their site and they will move fast to make it right).  I do not like their prices much lately on things like fruit but they have a lot of organic options and some seasonal things are very good prices for things like cabbage, zucchinis, daikon radishes, etc. and lots of things that you'd never find organic in the local stores here.  They are also building their offerings into more than produce, with meat and seafood now (with a cold pack) and pantry items.  Some of these are junk though and not organic, so check the individual listings.  If you want to join and get $10 off your first order, here's my affiliate link: COOKWME-IG1HMU.  It used to be that you had to build a box out of just lists of options, but now they let you just buy whatever you want and it's a flat $5.50 shipping fee as long as you meet the minimum order of $30.

*  We have a membership to Thrive co-op, which is an online store for organic and natural foods.  They sell shelf stable stuff and not produce, other than now you can also order frozen stuff if you meet a minimum of something like $100.  I haven't bought frozen but I often shop there for other stuff like healthy mayo, natural toothpaste and cleaning supplies, supplements, organic snacks, mushroom powders, keto and organic baking supplies, organic cereal, etc.  They cater to special diets like vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, keto, paleo, etc. too and you can even set the page to only show you things that meet your dietary requirements. They run fairly regular sales and offer things like this free expensive thing if you spend $49 today and stuff like that.  All of their products are non-GMO and most are organic.  Their prices tend to be fair, though not as cheap as buying in bulk.  If you are low income, they'll waive the yearly fee (I think it's $50?).  Here's my referral code if you want to join: http://thrv.me/pjfqyH.  I order from them fairly regularly, but I do tend to shop their sales.

*  I used to do Azure Standard but lately their prices have been increased and they're becoming a big business that's still trying to sell themselves as a small family business (they are still a family business, just a big one now).  Until a couple of years ago we'd buy cases of organic apples from there for around $22 for 20 pounds every fall and they were great quality, plus things like bulk grains, organic cereal, etc.  Now their apples are almost double the price and I can get almost everything cheaper elsewhere and still shop from ethical places.  They deliver by truck once a month to most locations in the US but you have to go to the drop off point to pick up, which is a couple of hours away from us and often at a really inconvenient time.  It can still be a good option, especially if you want to buy in bulk for things like baking supplies, natural cheese, vegan and vegetarian items, produce, etc.  Here's my affiliate link for them: https://www.azurestandard.com/?a_aid=18c34Y8HiN

*  We buy from local farms and farmers.  We get our beef from a regenerative farm a couple of hours away, and got it when they did a "clear the freezer" sale.  We get produce from a local farm.  It's not organic but it's local and they don't spray much.  We also shop the farmers' markets and such for the few organic vendors.

*  We grow our own and forage.  We forage a ton of wild mushrooms, apples and pears, wild asparagus, nettles, lambsquarters and other greens, elderberries, etc.  It's a large part of our food source and my kids always gasp at the idea of buying asparagus at the store.  :)

*  If you have a buy nothing group in your area, they're awesome.  Same with Freecycle.

*  Put the word out when you need/want things.  If you have any kind of social network like church newsletters or bulletin boards, friend groups, town FB group, etc. those are great for sharing want needs.  I have friends who probably haven't bought hobby supplies in years for instance, because they'll post something like "anybody have perler beads they don't need? my daughter is looking for some" or "anyone know where I can find a bird cage?" and at least one friend is usually quick to post that they'll give them one they have sitting around.  

*  Craig's List is good for used, larger item things.  We've found lots of great furniture through them.

Great thread!  Thanks for starting it.  
 
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Hi…did anyone mention co-ops? Many small farms do a lot of business that way.  I buy from a nationwide co-op based in Washington.  Most of their items are organic. If there is not a drop location near you..you can apply and run one..if they approve it.
WWW.AZURESTANDARD.com
 
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About Misfit...

They are not "rescuing" ugly fruit and veg... honestly I believe they are probably driving up the prices of some fruit and veg products.

What you ask? Ugly fruit and veg is used to make other things. Those weird avacados? It's called a tub of guacamole. That apple juice that is way overpriced? It's primarily honey crisp apples, because they are apparently a terrible apple for transporting. I about had a conniption when I heard about Misfit.

That said if it works for you and the price is right. You do you :)

Etsy is nice. I find it more for gifts and higher priced items like alpaca socks from a little farm. Sometimes you'll even get a note stating "this fiber came from our beloved Steve and Gypsy"! How cool is that??? And if you're patient enough you can score a sale. I am a serial "add it to cart" then watch it for months. A good part of the time I decide I didn't need it anyway/anymore. Beware of shipping there sometime it's ridiculous or from out of the country...

Used to use eBay for textbook deals in a place and time long ago. They were ok. I dunno it's been a minute since I've really used them.

Walmart is a very big no for us. Their hiring and firing practices especially against women is deplorable. The level of product is just.... plastic. Used to love Walmart. Remember when it used to be American products were promoted there? (Not trying to be a strange patriot or something.) And Sam's choice? Sam's club hasn't been great either from it's conception. We like Costco and they treat their employees well so far as I can tell. I don't hear the horror stories from them.

I too have been trying to quit Amazon. We're in a mountain valley and getting in/out often isn't an option. I hate what they have become. The whole foods we used to go to before we moved went DOWN in quality so bad after the Amazon takeover that we stopped going there. We're part of a co-op now that I wish was better and less pretentious. Going to say this anyway, but I think part of my reluctance to not use Amazon is the return policy. It got messed up or the affiliate sent trash? Auto refund/replace for most cases. It's headache free and having as much anxiety I do, that's enough to make me cry in relief. I didn't have to argue with the seller about a sh!tty item they sent.

I might have missed it, but your local farmers markets! They are honestly terrible at advertising! Usually plastic free and cash happy 😁   I love the idea of the farm boxes, but then I can't plan in advance for meals because I don't know what would be coming in the box... not sure one is offered by the folk in the valley anyway. Just show up every Friday and get your goodies. Heck I've been selling some baked goods there myself, not a lot, but we'll usually walk away with a hundred bucks and it's partly to be social (did I spell that right? It looks very wrong..thanks insomnia) and get to know folk here. It's been mostly nice.

Edit to add! Don't discount your own window still garden either! It might be only a pot of basil, bit it's *your* pot of basil! Having added that I need some breakfast, then go fill a container with dirt so I can grow some salad..err lettuces :D
 
pollinator
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We have been drastically cutting back on our Amazon purchases while working on stopping for good by the end of the year.  We fell into the habit of just ordering everything from them when I stopped driving and then 2020 happened.  

We have also have chosen to  minimize or avoid spending money with companies we don't like their business practices or buy from countries and businesses  that are known to have  human rights violations, bad working conditions, or business practices we don't approve of.  This is a lot harder than we anticipated.  This is harder to do than we would like. Trying to find out where something is made and where the base materials are sourced from is from easy.  

First place to look is the manufacture's website.  If I can order directly I will.  This tends to work best for USA manufactured goods.  If something is entirely made in the US the company will brag about it.  While I know I can't source from the US I do like websites that tell you where things are made.  

Lehmans.com has a bunch of Amish made goods and most other items they list the country of origin.  

Behrens Metalware has US made products and lists where their other products are made.  They make galvanized trash cans and  metal tubs.

Authenticity50  is a shop that has towels and bed linens.  While they are not certified organic they don't source their cotton from China or other neighboring countries where farmers are being treated horribly.  

I love to sew and quilt and I will  indulge in new materials.  I will avoid companies that use China sourced materials or manufacturing.  I look for OEKO TEX certified fabrics and country of origin for the manufacturing and source material.  It often means contacting and ask the company directly.  While I don't need anymore new fabric and it is easy to find second hand or remnants for quilting I do still buy new batting and thread.  I use Quilters Dream batting and Aurifil thread.  I am allergic to wool and other animal based fibers and I want to avoid plastic based fibers so I buy 100% cotton batting from Quilters Dream since they use 100% US grown cotton.

Toys for my nieces and nephews is hard!    We tend to give homemade or practical gifts but a few building, stem themed , art supplies, and other creativity based toys get purchased each year.   I have found that Fat Brain toys will let you sort by country of origin.  

If anyone has a good source for Stainless Steel Cooking, baking supplies, and food storage containers that are not manufactured in China please let me know.  I am having a hard time finding anything.  I have found a few from India but I have no idea how the workers are treated there.  

I am also looking for websites for shelf stable organic and specialty foods that isn't owned by Amazon or Kroger.  I am currently using Vitacost which is owned by Kroger.  I have had zero problems with them but I would love to have more options.

 
 
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Not local solutuions, but I love thredup.com   and thriftbooks.com.  The first is an on line consignment for women's and kids' clothes and accesories, the latter, an on-line used book store.
 
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You can find many items at Azure Standard and they now are delivering in the northeast. From organic produce to natural cleaners they offer quite a bit. You look up where the closest drop is to you and join that person’s group. Shipping costs are by weight and very reasonable considering I often get 40-50lb bags of organic flours and wheat berries and organic chicken feed. They have refrigerated and frozen foods and many natural items that are hard to find. www.azurestandard.com
 
pollinator
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Marvin Weber wrote:Since fruits and vegetables are apparently things that people are trying to find a source for, I'm surprised nobody mentioned farmers' markets. Most farmers markets have almost everything you need if you can't yet grow your own. And you're supporting very small, very local farms and other businesses such as soap makers, etc. Sure, you spend a bit more but you usually get much higher quality. And it saves you all that time online. All you have to do is be at the market for a few hours on Saturday morning.



It would be nice to support a farmers market.  Unfortunately the window of time to attend is so small, it isn’t often practical.  Especially when the cost of gas/time when you live far away is factored in.  

I was able to attend the state fair this year and bought some different items from local- at least in state anyway-  businesses for some things like homemade soaps and such.  Since I liked their products, now I’m able to support their business with mail order purchases.
 
master gardener
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I just thought of another site. If you're good with a new/2nd hand mix of apparel,  swap.com can provide some great deals, they ship quickly, and so far, I've been mostly happy with my purchases. The primary drawback is they don't always list the fiber content.
 
M Wilcox
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Anne Miller wrote:

Anne Miller wrote:Have you thought of joining Sams Club or Costco? I don't know about Costco though Sams Club has a membership that offers free shipping. I order from Walmart, Dollar General, and from various options.



M Wilcox wrote:[But Walmart, Dollar General and other discount stores still don't have local items and are exploiting overseas labor, as well as competing with and often eliminating local businesses and US manufacturing.
I don't really have a solution but I don't think Walmart and Dollar General are good alternatives to Amazon.



M Wilcox, as I explained those were only options other than eBay and Amazon.

When a person lives 30 miles to the nearest gas station and the only local options are Dollar General or Dollar Tree then what would you suggest that I do?



Hey, I'm not criticizing you! I still use Amazon and Walmart. I'm just saying that Walmart's no better than Amazon, so I would hesitate to recommend Walmart to anyone else as an alternative to Amazon.
Honestly for me, price is the bottom line. I'm poor and always scrimping for change. I would love to be like some of these people and go to the local Farmer's Market, join the co-op and do all those other pricey things but I just can't afford it.
I'm always salvaging free stuff, making my own clothes, repurposing, shopping at thrift stores, etc but you can't buy toilet paper at a thrift store so I get it from Dollar General just like you.
I apologize if you felt attacked.
 
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I limit my midnight impulse online shopping by removing all money from my bank account except what pays the bills. It takes an extra step to re-deposit cash into bank account in order to shop online. So now that most if my income is cash at home, I am motivated to shop locally and pay cash. It feels good knowing that no one is tracking my expenditures locally, in order to bombard my email with ads to tempt me to shop online. I can buy a chicken and eggs from a local farmer, beads or yarn from a local store, vegetables from a stand, crafts at a farmer at market, and the high tech trackers are not in the loop. This gives me privacy that is lacking when shopping online.
 
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Jeanne Wallace wrote:We started a Support Small & Local Businesses spreadsheet online (on AirTable).
https://airtable.com/shrWIK5XAf9rQf5a1



Thank you so much for this list. I was intrigued by "Open Your Eyes Bedding" and their all natural "forever sponges" -- just purchased one for me and one for my mother who is ALWAYS replacing her synthetic, cradle to grave sponges. Wonderful find!
 
                                                                                              
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There's a social media app called "beartaria times" that has over 400 users in new york, and every single one of them is focused on growing their own food in whatever capacity they can. It's completely funded by the users, so it's not as smooth or easy as facebook or instagram, but the people are the best.
It's not as ideal as a simple grocery store, but it's a connection to people that will 100% have organic and local stuff.
 
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I know if only one in that part of the country, and since the states are small over there, they do drive up that far, if I remember correctly. Polyface Farms is Joel Salitin, and they grow organic food and deliver it to drop points. I very much support local and small farms, getting that whole dollar in the farmers hand, because if we don't, we are squeezing out that small farmer.  

Went to Safeway the other day here in Washington State....  We are known for our apples, here.  But the shelves are lined with apples from New Zealand, and boxes products are processed out of country as well.  This has gotten. Ridiculous, and Covid has brought this problem to a glaring light, with ships parked outside our shorelines, waiting to be unloaded.  Meanwhile Wenatchee, WA is throwing out fruit because the government told them to.  

Google small, local farms. Get to know your food and your farmer. Don't get so caught up in govt regulation and "certified" anything because what those things really mean is more cost to the farmer without the true oversight they claim to be providing from the govt, which that cost is then passed onto the comsumer.  And don't walk into their property with a chip on your shoulder induced from PETA misinformation, or they will promptly invite you to walk back off of it.

I'm a little hobby farm, won't fit your needs bc I'm across the country.  But I relate to a LOT of what you're saying.  I put it a farm blog and minor YouTube channel  doing various crafty, self sufficiency projects, if you're looking for ideas. beggsnachin.webstarts.com
 
pollinator
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As someone who does heavily use Amazon, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread.

If I could ask a favor: when citing businesses or companies including WHERE you are (or they are) would be a great help to the rest of us NOT in the US.

For those in Canada  
GROCERY:
SPUD.CA may be an option.  "SPUD is a grocery delivery service that specializes in supporting local farmers, growers, producers, and artisans. With a focus on providing sustainable groceries, SPUD curates the best in local and organic products for our customers to enjoy.

Delivering groceries 7 days a week across our four locations in Canada, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in BC as well as both Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, order today to get fresh produce and local groceries brought to your door.
"

FARMERS MARKETS:  even in our smallish nearby city they have "Urban Markets" once a week where the same folk who do the rural markets offer their wares.  

On the Vancouver Island we have several locally owned and run grocery store 'mini chains':  Thrifty's, 49th Parallel and Country Grocer all seem to do their best to support (in season) area farmers by stocking their local meat, fruit, veg and dairy (alongside the imports sadly) then BC grown and Canadian produced.

Habitat for Humanity:  a great source of household/building type materials.  Not only are most of the items either second hand or construction surplus (kept out of landfill) but the profits go to build housing for those with lower incomes.

ONLINE: Free store, freecycle, CraigsList, Kijiji, the free section of the newspaper.
FACEBOOK: marketplace, reuse/recyle groups, general groups by neighborhood/area.
THRIFT STORES:  Sally Ann (Salvation Army), Value Village (pricey, but huge variety), and a host of smaller, often locally based charity thrift stores.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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BANANA'S: Although there are/were hundreds of different banana strains, only one is commonly cultivated today, the Cavendish:  "... They have good color; are uniform in size; have a thick skin; and are easy to peel. Banana afficionados complain their taste is bland and sweet. The Gros Michel (meanings "Big Mike") was the most common supermarket variety until the 1950s when crops worldwide were wiped out by the Panama disease. The Cavendish was unaffected by the disease and emerged as No. 1 export banana. But it too is vulnerable to diseases, It produces no seeds or pollen and can not be bred to improve it resistance."   https://factsanddetails.com/world/cat54/sub343/item1577.html


 There is a common phrase "Banana Republic"...  

  " In the early years of Central American banana trade the head of United Fruit had a marriage for political gain to the daughter of the Costa Rican President. This allowed his fruit company United Fruit to start acquiring the other fruit companies in the country. In the 1950’s when freely elected government of Guatemala threatened United Fruits control, United Fruit convinced the CIA that an overthrow was in order. The CIA placed a right-wing dictator loyal to United Fruit in power securing United Fruit’s position in Guatemala."  https://community.plu.edu/~bananas/brief-history/

All this to explain why organic banana's are very hard to come by.... If they produce no seed or pollen, and cannot be "bred" these must be seriously as far from natural or organic as any fruit could possibly be.

 
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Jeanne Wallace wrote:We started a Support Small & Local Businesses spreadsheet online (on AirTable).
One tab shows alternatives to amazon and other large corporations.
The other tab is a list of small businesses. You can add your business by clicking the link at the top. https://airtable.com/shrWIK5XAf9rQf5a1



Hey! Starwest botanicals is local to me! How cool. Small world.
 
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WOW!  Sounds like Azure Standard is unknown on this blog.  www.AzureStandard.com.  Everything is organic. One can buy a little or a 50 pound bag of many items. Everything you can find in a grocery store, they carry. My drop is once a month so planning is important.

Here's the link to see if a drop is in your area. https://www.azurestandard.com/drop-point-locator
They are expanding every month so don't give up. Sign up, if you're interested, to sponsor a drop.

The pricing is way less than Misfits. My first, and only, experience with Misfits was a huge disappointment. The fruits were tiny, if they survived the shipping, which was 5 days late. EVERYTHING was thrown into a large box.  So, plums and apples were being tossed around with the watermelon.  Needless to say, much of it didn't survive. So, plan ahead so you can eliminate damage by ordering small things together.  They did refund the price of the damaged goods.

Azure Standard has a lot of "their name" products that are grown on their farms. All organic, many heritage seeds.  

Locally, we have Amish produce auctions during the growing season. Talk to like-minded people around you who have been in the area a long time to see if you can find something like this. I drive to a dairy farm to buy raw milk; another referral from a friend.

We support the local building supply stores and small stores. There is very little choice here since we're in a rural area and in a small town. I've begun avoiding Amazon as well. Just yesterday, I was looking up a prior purchase and saw that I hadn't ordered anything from them in 8 months.  My purchases have been from online stores, and the prices have been better than Amazon. Yep, I order and shop Walmart. Hate it but there just isn't much choice. The local grocery stores can be $1+ more EACH item. Just can't do it as much as I would love to support the local store. They also don't have but a couple organic items.

As much as I dislike Facebook, I use the Marketplace to buy and sell things. Hubby is a retired Home Inspector and I've been selling his gently used equipment.  We've also purchased quite a few things.  I gave up on Craigslist because the only responses I ever got on ads were from spammers.

Hope when you re-locate, you're planning on buying some land and putting in a garden. One of the Proverbs in the Bible says to plant your field first, then build your house.  We did that!! I have 28 grow beds (can't grow in rock) and are just now working on transforming this industrial building into a home.

Best of luck to you and your journey!!
 
Anne Miller
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:   There is a common phrase "Banana Republic"...  



I hadn't thought about Banana Republic in many years.  They are still around for online sales:

Banana Republic is an American clothing and accessories retailer owned by the American multinational corporation Gap Inc. It was founded in 1978 by Mel and Patricia Ziegler, who originally called the company "Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_Republic

https://bananarepublic.gap.com/
 
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Ebay!!  It notes the location of the seller and find one closer to you.  Great for used books and other parts and pieces.
 
Edward Norton
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Just incase there’s anyone else out there whose never been to Costco’s you have to pay for membership and you’re not allowed to look around first.
 
Normally trees don't drive trucks. Does this tiny ad have a license?
The Design and Build of the Giant Solar Food Dehydrator (1 hour and 21 minutes HD)
https://permies.com/wiki/91978/Design-Build-Giant-Solar-Food
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