Where do you go first when you want to buy something? Everyone has their favourite shops, whether it's a huge supermarket where you can buy everything from a tin of beans to household contents insurance, or an elegant department store where the staff treat you with deference, or a market full of alternative clothes, weird knick-knacks and new age bookstalls.
I like eBay for second-hand bargains. I ought to shop in charity shops more but I haven't the patience. They work best if you pop in a few times a week with a shopping list in your head, ready to snap up the perfect pair of shoes in your size (or whatever) as soon as they come in. I tend to only go shopping when there's something specific I want, so the sheer size of eBay means that if I want, say, a pair of size 7 cherry red pre-owned Doc Marten boots, they have 15 for me to choose from.
I also like Craigslist which is similar to eBay. In fact I prefer it to eBay because it's free, it's local, and it has stayed close to its hippyish roots. There's a funky counterculture feeling to it which tickles me immensely.
I have to admit to spending a lot of money on Amazon. My voluntary simplicity, anti consumerist, downshifted principles fall apart when it comes to books. I buy far too many books. I do also make regular use of my local library, which is a greener way to feed my reading habit. And I frequent my local bookshop. But I am trying to kick my Amazon habit and patronise Abe Books instead. You can search 13,500 booksellers selling over 1 million used books so I should be able to find anything I want there and salve my conscience at the same time. Maybe I should also release some of my books into the wild, via Bookcrossing.
But mostly I try to shop as little as possible. I am appalled that shopping is said to be the most popular leisure activity in Britain today. I am bewildered that a typical large supermarket will stock around 50,000 different product lines. Over-consumption is not only bad for the planet, I think it's also bad for the individuals who over-consume, in the same way that eating too much food or drinking too much alcohol is bad for you even though it may seem enjoyable at the time.
I try to think before I shop. First, I think whether I need to buy anything at all, and second, I think whether I could buy something second hand instead.