Tips for Shopping at a Big-Box Store


Special Contributor

We all do it from time to time. Except Wendell Berry. So I’m dropping my grouchy attitude to offer this quick list for all you wanna-be sustainable greenies who secretly shop at Meijer and Super Target:

  1. Make a shopping list. Do this ahead of time. Otherwise you’ll be hypnotized by the fluorescent lighting and find yourself involuntarily snatching up needless junk from strategically placed displays and shelves at the checkout line.
  2. Buy organic. Even Walmart carries Stonybrook Farms Organic Vanilla Yogurt. Yum! If you have to fork over cash to a company that monopolizes the retail industry and destroys local economies by putting moms-and-pops out of business, at least buy products made with a sense of ethics.
  3. Buy made in the USA. You don’t have to go broke to do this, either. Hold out for sales. I bought my son a pair of New Balance tennis shoes with a “Made in the USA” label on them for less than $50 at a big-box store.
  4. Buy local. This is even better. Here in the Bluegrass, we have “Kentucky Proud” signs and labels that I look for in the grocery section. Ask the produce manager where those apples and potatoes came from. Expect an answer. Let the store know that you want to support local farmers.
  5. Shop at a union store. Labor unions have long been a force for human and civil rights in this country, helping to balance the power between workers and corporations. If you doubt the usefulness of unions, take a good look at employee rights abuses in China—for instance, Foxconn, a massive electronics manufacturer that had to install netting to try to prevent suicides at its dormitory factories; click here to read more about life at a Foxconn facility. So if you have to go with a chain, at least pick union stores such as Kroger and Meijer.

Happy shopping.

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