Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where To Shop "Green"

Big box warehouse stores, like Costco or Sam's Club.

But consider my case for big box stores as a greener choice:

  • Shop less frequently: Because of the jumbo-sized products, shopping at big box stores lets you shop less often, which means less gas wasted and pollution generated. Obviously you need to be smart about storing quantities of perishable items to avoid waste.

  • Shop at fewer stores: Big box stores offer one-stop-shopping for a wide range of products, everything from groceries to clothing to books to furniture, thereby further reducing shopping road trips.

  • Use less packaging: One reason why big box stores can sell products for less is the cost savings on packaging (i.e., one large container vs. multiple smaller containers). Packaging can easily add 10 percent or more to the cost of a product, and the manufacturing and disposal of all that packaging material creates a Costco-sized carbon footprint.

  • Use neither paper nor plastic: Last but certainly not least, big box stores are just about the only stores of any kind that don't ask that cliché question at the checkout counter: "Paper or plastic?" At big box stores, you typically load up your own purchases in cardboard shipping boxes that in other stores get thrown in the dumpster.
This seems reasonable to me. Is he leaving out anything obvious, on either side?


MiaZagora said...

I haven't been asked "paper or plastic" in years. The grocery stores in our area only have only offered plastic. However, recently they've started selling their own reusable cloth totes for around .99 - of course with the logo and colors of the particular store. Two of the grocery stores also recycle their used grocery bags. (I'm not sure if this entails melting them back down or if they just reuse the cleanest ones.)

We live in the county, where garbage service is high, so my husband takes ours either to the landfill or to a special station in town once a week. We also live close to a recycling pick-up area where they take mixed paper, cardboard, #1 and #2 plastic bottles, newspaper, glass, steel cans and used oil - so we recycle quite a bit.

I know someone who works at a landfill and, after Christmas and after tax returns start coming back, people are always bringing things that are used but still very much useful - instead of donating them. The big thing is furniture. I needed a larger chest-of-drawers for one of my children and someone brought one in to the landfill to be thrown away. My friend asked if she could have it. I cleaned it up and painted it. I'm no professional, but it looks very cute!

I suppose you could say that buying the paint is very environmentally unfriendly, but I buy the smallest can possible and, so far, I have been able to use it up rather than having to dispose of it another way.

Mrs. C said...

One thing I want to add is that the big box stores sometimes package smaller packages for resale. So, more packaging and not less sometimes.

Still, when I make recipes I use something like 18 cups of flour, and this is just a lot more economical for me. I buy very few things from the grocery store.

David said...

Energy is important, but it's not the only resource in the world that matters. If someone can avoid driving an extra 45 minutes each way to go to a Big Box store, and spend the time instead on something that's meaningful to him and/or economically useful, that's relevant too.

The "green" movement has reached the stage of becoming a form of idolatry, worshipping things and forces at the expense of people.

Darren said...

Hear, hear.

ricki said...

Also, single people like me don't always have a use for big-box megastores. I can't eat up eight pounds of grapes before they go bad.

I know, the greenies would say I either need to recruit all my friends and we need to make a common list and share, or, even better, I need to "co house" with a bunch of people, but I just don't like people that much.

I will say that ANYTHING that limits the number of trips I have to make to the store is very welcome, though. I HATE grocery shopping.

I don't know if it's my imagination, but it seems of late the "plastic" bags (the only thing most stores around me offer) have gotten a lot crummier...and this seems to coincide with the rise of the "buy and reuse" bags. (My one issue with those - I'd have to buy 15 of them and haul them with me every time I shopped. Because I try to show as infrequently as possible.)

rightwingprof said...

Oh no. I didn't see this. There's no way I can stop shopping at Sam's.

I didn't see this. I didn't see this. I didn't see this.