Amazon in small doses is convenient, helpful and a great invention. But too much of a good thing leads to clutter, both in the things you impulse buy and the boxes that clutter comes in. Here’s how to beat Prime and deal with all those boxes.
Don’t tell Amazon about this post
Who knows if they’re coming after the little guys or not but I don’t want to chance it.
Most of your clutter is Amazon’s fault.
Maybe that’s a little harsh but who else sends you boxes of goodies day and night? All you have to do is click and they’re on it. Impulse buying is at a whole new level now we don’t have to get dressed or find our keys and credit card to physically go buy things.
They offered me Prime. Free shipping for an annual fee. I knew better and refused and so now every time I buy something, they offer me free shipping for the next 24 hours.
How smart is that? Fiendishly smart, that’s how. I mentally scour the house and my heart for things I’ve been needing or wanting – free shipping! – and if I don’t come up with something, there’s dear helpful Amazon with a targeted list of items they think I might like. And of course I do, because their algorithm is spot on.
How to tame the shopping monster
If you want to get free of the cult, there’s an easy way to do it and good old Amazon has even thought of it for us.
Use the wish list
Save items you want to the Amazon wish list and watch yourself click on them next time anyway. Better you should go old school and start a list. Pen and paper or a spreadsheet if you must.
Make a list
Every time you find yourself with that Amazon itch, write down what you want to buy on the list. Stay off the site because they’re going to tempt you to buy it while you’re there.
Keep adding to the list every time something comes up for a whole week.
I know, you have Prime, it’s free shipping. But it’s just like going to the grocery store. Shop once a week and you spend less. Every time you go to the store, you find something you didn’t know you needed. Stick to your list and you save money.
Maybe money is no problem for you. How lovely. But if you’re reading this blog, clutter is most definitely a problem. Dealing with clutter requires a two-pronged approach. More leaves, less comes in. If you’re diligently decluttering but spending freely without thinking about it, perhaps that’s why the clutter problem never seems to get under control.
Clutter is anything that’s crowding your space
Your clutter might not be tchotchkes and papers, but if you have three giant cartons of paper towels in your basement, you’re still dealing with clutter.
READ MORE >>> How to declutter and organize
Amazon subscriptions save you time going to the store, or ordering online but like the book of the month club that kept on delivering novels your parents never read, the subscriptions are easy to forget about about until you finally cancel the diaper subscription when your kid has been potty trained for 9 months.
Check it twice
So once a week, review the list you made. Do you still want twelve bottles of hand lotion? How about that worthy tome your uncle recommended? You weren’t going to read it anyway, now you have the chance to not buy it too.
You’ll probably find, like most us, that what seemed so urgent and enticing has become less exciting. Place your Amazon order once a week and you’ll be pleased and surprised at how much you save and how much less is coming into your house.
Which brings us to the boxes.
Do you have an Amazon box problem?
They pile up in the basement, it’s a lot of work to break them down for recycling so we put it off. We might need a box like that to send something to someone.
At this point, we all have all the boxes we’ll need for the next three years and then some. By cutting your Amazon order down to once a week – maybe even once a month? – you’re saying enough is enough. I don’t want box mountain to grow any bigger.
When I go into someone’s house for the first time and we’re looking for easy wins, I ask where the empty boxes are. It’s usually the garage or the basement but it could be the spare room or the corner of the family room. Wherever it is, breaking down those boxes and getting them out to the car for a trip to the recycling center clears space as efficiently as if I’d brought my magic organizing wand with me.
Assess how many you need
Of course, it’s prudent to keep a few. Think about how often you mail someone anything in a box. Twice a year, maybe? If you’re a frequent gift giver, look me in the eye and tell me you honestly don’t use Amazon to send their gifts to them directly.
If you’re saving them for dealing with the clutter or for moving one day, think again. The most efficent way to do that is use bankers boxes.
Compare that to the teetering boxes of all different shapes, sizes and condition you crammed your things into last time. Like the free liquor store boxes we all used for moving when we were penniless, these “free” Amazon boxes are suboptimal. The big boxes with all the paper towels in them are light for Amazon to deliver but if you fill them up with anything heavier than paper towels when you move, they’re going to be hell on wheels to lift and carry.
If you can afford to impulse buy at Amazon, you can afford the right boxes when you need them.
Ironic suggestion: next time you place your order, add a shrink-wrapped pack of uniformly sized boxes the right size for whatever it is you’re thinking you’ll use boxes for before your next move.
Don’t fall for it
Amazon has become aware that we keep too many of their boxes. That’s why they have a give back program. All you have to do is print out a shipping label, fill it with donations and ship it.
Which means you’ll never do it.
Hunt around for printer ink, install the printer ink, find the tape and scissors for attaching the label to the box. Gather the donations and schlep them to the specific drop off site.
This program is designed to help you feel better about your Amazon problem by offering a way to ameliorate it that’s too time-consuming for you to actually do. But since there’s an option, that gets tied in your brain with Amazon is a good guy.
Listen, if they really wanted to be helpful like that, they’d pick up your donations when they dropped off your packages.