So Money - Episode 1170

Julie Scelfo

Author and Journalist

#BoycottAmazon has been trending on Twitter lately. Maybe you’ve seen the headlines about Amazon’s alleged unsustainable and unfair working conditions or grown concerned about the massive wealth chasm between the company’s founder and its 1.3 million employees. 

Perhaps you’ve witnessed several mom and pop-owned businesses close their doors during the pandemic, while Amazon earned billions. You may be embarrassed about the amount of money you spend at the retail behemoth. Or maybe you just want to better support minority-owned businesses.

Whatever the reason, you may be compelled to quit Amazon for good. Today’s episode interviews one New York City journalist and mom who’s given up her Amazon spending as best she can.

Julie Scelfo officially kicked her Amazon habit in 2019 for “a combination of reasons,” she told me. Between the excessive packaging that made recycling a “part-time job,” the financial toll on mom-and-pop stores, and the overtime delivery teams suffered around the holidays to get Amazon packages to doorsteps, Scelfo had witnessed enough. The site was once her go-to for everything from laundry detergent to books, baby gifts, and kid clothes, but she banned it altogether.

As an activist, this isn’t Scelfo’s first retail boycott. Several years ago, she gave up the Gap when she saw the clothing store monopolizing city street corners and edging out smaller shops. “I’ve always tried to spend my dollars in line with my values.” But, she admits, “it’s not so easy.”

Listen to find out more about Julie’s reasons for banning Amazon, how she’s finding alternative vendors and how others can follow in her footsteps.

More about Julie: She is a journalist, author and justice advocate who helps people discover the forces that help shape human thinking.

Recently, she gave a TED Talk about how humans make meaning and why being “media savvy” — having an understanding how media works — is essential for parsing today’s cluttered information environment.

Previously, Scelfo was a staff writer for The New York Times, where she wrote stories about how we live in contemporary American society that frequently ended up on the Times’s most-emailed list. Before joining the Times in 2007, Scelfo was a Correspondent at Newsweek where she covered breaking news, including the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

Scelfo is most popularly known as the author of The Women Who Made New York (Seal Press/Hachette, 2016), a collection of intersectional biographies that reveal how it was women — and not just men — who built one of the world’s greatest cities. Irin Carmon described the book as “both a public service and a pleasure;” Maria Popova of Brain Pickings deemed it “rigorously researched and elegantly written.”

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Julie Scelfo Photo Credit: Johannes Kroemer

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