Online shopping with its instant access to thousands of retailers 24/7 has forever changed the way we shop.
Add in free shipping and lower prices, and the combination is all but irresistible. Amazon Prime members can have items delivered in two days for free, and next day for a flat price of $3.99, which is about the price of a gallon of gas. The speed of this exchange is remarkable. If I see something during an online shopping break, I can order it and have it in my hand within a day. Every now and then an impulsive purchase proves to be a poor choice and gets shipped out to garage for storage. Over time our garage became packed to the rafters with items we no longer used. We panicked when our landlord told us he needed to tear down the garage. Where would we put everything? More importantly how did we collect so much stuff?
“Indeed, industries design products with built-in obsolescence—that is, to last until approximately the time customers typically want to replace them.” (McDonough, Braungart, 98)
There are several dynamics at play here. The first is the intentionally short life cycle that is designed into consumer products. We are conditioned to be happy with this year’s model until a new one is introduced next year. The new laptop that I buy today does not support my older FireWire drives that still work perfectly fine. Our garage is filled with items that still work but were designed for a short life cycle. In preparation for the move, we went through an initial purge and threw away half of the items while prepping the remaining things for a Public Storage unit. We rented the unit for about 5 months and would add items to the unit that we no longer needed. How long do we need to have an item before placing it in storage?
Placing items in Public Storage, allow us to dispose of the object without feeling guilty or wasteful. The Amazon Box puzzle removes the middle part of the story, and takes an item straight from the Amazon shipping box to the Public Storage box. The experience explores issues of instant gratification and consumption practices. By completely removing the period of utilization, the user is forced to experience a rapid transition from an Amazon shipping box to Public Storage box. We are left unsatisfied with the process because we have no idea what is in the box.