Opportunities in disguise of a crisis? – impact of covid on my purchasing habits

The pandemic, for a lot of us, has worked as a reset button. Having the luxury of more time, we’ve taken up hobbies, we are doing things we never thought we would. Spending more time with family and doing more meaningful things apart from anticipating (which I think is the single most thing that connects us all amidst the uncertainty), which in my opinion has also been the worst consequence of this trying times. 

With the nationwide lockdown, retail services were at a complete standstill. I remember impulsively checking amazon to see if they had started deliveries in my area. While giants were struggling, most small retail shops were completely wiped out of business. Around april 2020, Ahmedabad was under a partial lockdown with only essential services like mom and pop stores and medical stores allowed to operate. Due to increased demand, online grocery stores like grofers and big basket were running full slots. 

I started buying groceries offline, in sheer need of daily essentials but after a couple of weeks, I started seeing the benefits of switching to offline. On one of these errands, I overheard a shop owner saying that offline buying has increased his customer count and helped his business survive. I developed the habit of carrying a cloth tote bag along (in this regard, my family’s traditional values have been more sustainable than mine, and they have always encouraged me to follow suit). In contemplation, I now realise that even a single small purchase like a nail paint bottle takes up a lot of packaging (have you ever noticed? It is so carefully packed in a 3 layer packaging). 

Purchasing my groceries offline has become quite enjoyable. Being an MBA student, I lead a sedentary lifestyle. Between classes, assignments, club meetings and a deluge of other miscellaneous tasks, and with my dear mother bringing my food to me on my table, I barely take time out to move. Last year, when I was home owing to the pandemic, my online classes required me to be seated for long hours in front of my computer. Shopping was refreshing, to say the least. I used to look forward to my mother handing me a long list, so I could take a walk around to the store (who would have thought?). Walking has numerous health benefits, and the shopping provided me opportunities to move, and take some time away from my busy schedule. 

My learning? By switching to offline buying, you are not only getting health benefits (walking a couple of blocks to get milk), but also refusing a lot of plastic and paper waste. 

Due to the frequent buying from the same three shops in my vicinity, I now wave and smile at a couple of known faces, which in the early days of the pandemic, compensated for the lack of social interaction. 

– Ratnaker Chitra Ajay (Student, IIMU)

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