A recent phenomenon that has been sweeping the pandemic's favourite social media platform, TikTok, is a series of videos about must-have products from Amazon. The products covered include everything from home decor to products for your car, and most users posting these videos strongly emphasise how much better your life is made by buying these things. The hashtag #amazonmusthaves has 2.5 billion views as of writing this article and most creators of these videos have their own storefronts that you can browse through on Amazon as well. Some are also supported by affiliate links that give them a portion of the profits made, and brings into question the integrity of these TikToks in the first place, as most sponsorships do.
As someone who is not a fan of buying unnecessary things, or of Amazon as a company itself, I would like to go through the first 5 TikToks that showed up when I searched for "Amazon Must Haves" on the app, and review whether the product is a beneficial one, or whether there are cheaper, more ethical alternatives available.
Rocketbook - as seen in this TikTok from @findswithkayla
The alternative to throwing out all your notes at the end of every semester, the Rocketbook, like other reusable notebooks, is the sustainable solution to avoiding gallons of paper in the recycling bin every few months. This notebook is a strong start to this list because, at $32.70, one could argue that the benefits that this has for the environment balance out the harmful practices of Amazon. However, I cannot help but think that perhaps just a pretty large notebook would be equally effective. Find a massive $10 notebook from a local dollar store, or spend a little more on a large personalised notebook from Etsy or Redbubble and support a local small business!
Bottom line: The Rocketbook could be a valuable purchase.
Fruit Soft Serve Maker - as seen in this TikTok from @rachel_meaders
I have to admit that this machine looks incredibly cool in the video, and may even be a great purchase. But after numerous videos all over my social media feed about making "nice cream" with ingredients you likely have on hand, this machine feels unnecessary. If you already have a blender at home, try this recipe for an ice cream with dairy or a variety of "nice creams" that are all vegan. However, according to this article by someone who used the exact same gadget as the one in the TikTok, the blender versions are just not the same.
Bottom line: For $99.98, I think it is far too expensive for something that you could potentially make right now.
ScanMarker Air - as seen in this TikTok from @mik.zenon
As someone who is done with university, I wish I knew about this marker a long time ago. The ScanMarker is a device that synchronises anything you highlight with its app, allowing you to digitise all your notes and organise all your important information so that you can review on the go without whipping out your massive textbook every single time. My go-to study method has always been flashcards and this is a gadget that would have made my entire process a lot more efficient. However, at $169.00, you have to ask yourself if this is a purchase that is essential.
Bottom line: The ScanMarker is too expensive and would not save nearly enough time to make the purchase worth it.
Bluetooth Keyboard - as seen in this TikTok from @maxieelise
When this TikTok showed up on my screen, I had an immediate aversion towards it. I could not think of many uses for a bluetooth keyboard that connects to multiple devices, but after some research I understand the health benefits of typing with better posture, releasing the pressure on your wrists, or increasing the distance between your eyes and the screen. Especially with classes being online this past year, having this keyboard means you could maintain a similar level of productivity on mobile devices if your laptop or PC malfunctions and cannot be used for a few days. Although I could not find the exact keyboard from the TikTok, most bluetooth keyboards cost approximately $50 on Amazon and if using your laptop for extended periods of time is becoming a serious issue, this could help improve the situation.
Bottom line: Personally, I would not buy this for myself, but if your laptop has been acting up lately and worries you about its long term functionality, it may be worth it to buy a bluetooth keyboard as a temporary solution.
4-in-1 Travel Bottle Dispenser - as seen in this TikTok from @mrsalexsanz
I do not think this requires much of an explanation, but this is not a useful purchase for the time being. Nobody is travelling for leisure (if you are, you should not be) and limiting the liquids in your carry-on is not a concern for many right now. That being said, the design is really sleek, and in the future when we are able to go anywhere in a mask-free world, I would definitely want to buy this. For only $14.99, it would reduce the space that individual liquids would take up in your suitcase. I have, however, found significantly less expensive alternatives at local shops and dollar stores that essentially provide the same benefits.
Bottom line: The 4-in-1 travel bottle dispenser is something that is appealing mostly for how pretty it looks rather than how functional it is. In my opinion, it is not something you really need to buy from Amazon.
To conclude, I cannot really tell you what not to buy with your money, just like the people on TikTok cannot tell you what you should buy. But sometimes it is worth it to spend a little time doing some research into whether you really need something or if it just scratches that inner consumerist itch of getting a package.
Let us know if you have bought anything from Amazon after seeing it in a TikTok! Was it worth it?