I’m balancing 6 packs of Ramen noodles and 4 cans of tuna on a pack of toilet paper when I see a bin for $1 CHERRY CHAPSTICK. I make a beeline towards the bin and that’s when my tower of deals comes crashing to the ground. I stoop to pick up the packages of shattered noodles and dented tin cans while trying to avoid getting hit by the oncoming traffic of bright blue, SUV sized plastic carts.
This should be embarrassing.
But it’s not. Because I’m at Walmart, and everybody here is IN IT FOR THE DEALS. They understand my urgency and my great need for things on the cheap. Nobody here cares about the environment or knows about the word ‘sustainability.’ But wait. I’m here too. A year ago, with my new degree in sustainability and graduate school bills just waiting in the wings, I said I would NEVER shop at Walmart again. But that’s when I wasn’t poor. Before you judge, maybe I should explain…I shouldn’t be here, but I am.
I refuse to shop at Whole Foods. OK, I also can’t afford it. The size of things at Costco scares me, and I choose minimalism, so I’d feel suffocated with 20,000 packs of contact solution. I live within biking distance to a few different grocery stores, including the behemoth of Walmart. I don’t want to go there, ever. I mean, have you ever seen the ‘people of Walmart’ blog? (Intentionally NOT linking to them). Eww. Not me, no way. But I was in a financial pinch, like $20 for groceries for the week pinch. So where else could I go?
There are a million reasons to not shop at Walmart. Their attention to ‘sustainability’ is atrocious, they do not treat workers, local businesses or their vendors with respect. I won’t repeat the details, you can find them everywhere. In fact, here’s 10 Reasons Walmart Fails at Sustainability from my friends at Care2. But is anybody really doing better to reach the working poor and create healthy alternatives? Where could I go and buy $20 worth of non-produce groceries and still have money left over for chapstick? If you care and want to make shopping decisions based on sustainability, you shouldn’t be shopping at stores at all. Doing so while boycotting certain other stores is like dressing in drag and eating Chik-fil-A.
I’m walking around the aisles of Walmart looking at who else shops here. Of course there are the extremely obese people in electric chairs and others who belong in the fashion hall of fame. There are also families of all colors, young couples, the elderly. People like me who either can’t afford to shop somewhere else or just want to save money. It’s a problem. I don’t want to shop here, I shouldn’t. Hopefully, I won’t have to forever. But here I am.
And most likely, in some form, so are you.
Want to shop better? Here’s how:
PS: Are you not judging me for shopping at Walmart but still confused as to why I eat Ramen noodles? Because they’re delicious. But that’s a whole other blog post in itself.