Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ethical Shopping versus Financial Survival

I think you guys have known this about me; I have had my proverbial panties in a wad for years now. Corporate America is evil and money-grubbing and has undermined the foundation that We the People have built--small business, the mommas and the poppas of retail, the American Gothic-esque farms. As a result, I have tried to support the little guy. I have tried to put things on or in my body and the bodies of my dear family that are healthy, organic and natural.

But--IT IS KICKING MY ASS!!!! And I am falling for Walmart. Cheap, cheap Walmart. Mason jars and bamboo paper towel holders are there just for the inexpensive taking. Friends, please talk me down. And China---people are losing their jobs in China, too. It's a GLOBAL economy, right? Right? I should care about the jobless in China too. Or perhaps we no longer vote with our wallets.


Shaken Mama said...

It's ultimately the survival of the fittest in this economy. Our best bet is to encourage the retailers who have the economy of scale to wield their power responsibly. So, buying organic at Costco, for example.

Last night I bought a microscope for our cousins. It was available at several charming places, and at Wal-Mart, which offered shipping for 97 cents, versus 27 dollars. No brainer. Wal-Mart all the way.
My goal is to negate our need for new things, but when we do absolutely need new things, buy them as cheaply as possible. Everyone's going to clobber me for this, but there is a REASON why sweatshops prosper --- the people in the regions so badly need the jobs. They are a step along the way to healthy national economies. HORRIBLE, I know. But there you have it. Another harsh reality of the new economy.

Anonymous said...

You girls rock..this is a great discussion, I enjoyed reading both of your opinions (as always). I have to say tho that I think there is a big discrepency between Wal-Mart and other stores that import goods, raise prices,etc. Wal-Mart is so corrupt, I could never shop there and haven't since being informed of their unethical tactics. That being said, Nico got a gift card from Wal-Mart and we are low on cash, I needed to get a gift for someone else this weekend. Shipping was too late so I HAD to go. It was the worst experience ever. A man walking past me on his cell phone yelling "well, what the f*** are the goddamn kids gonna eat, huh dumbass?", morbidly obese woman eating a slim jim in her electric get-to mobile, and terrible energy throughout the store. I WILL tell you that I had to fight not to grab the apple juice tho, I had never seen it so cheap. But, I stuck to my guns and only bought the gift making sure to use up every penny so not to go back. Cuz, how can a sahm who is poor throw away money? It wasn't even mine to begin with so it all felt okay and justifiable.
Anyway, I've been saying for two years now that we need affordable, sustainable supplies, food and clothing. And the people who come up with that are going to be set for life. Imagine a bamboo/hemp tee at target for 8.99! I wish I could open a store...SM's PR skills, WYM soap line which would of course be expanded to other arenas! Oh to dream.
Anyway, thanks for the topic....I always love it when someone jambles my brain up a bit...geez, it used to be something else!
love you two!

G'Ma said...

Walmart sucks; we all have our Walmart stories. But it meets a market need, and it thrives. On this day of Thanksgiving, feel fortunate, for the most part, we are able to bypass Walmart and make other shopping decisions. But there is no shame in shopping there – it is often purely and simply a financial decision, one of making sometimes limited means stretch as far as possible. And our first allegiance is to providing for our families.

Shaken Mama brings up an excellent point, and one I have long advocated. As unfortunate as it is, my purchasing goods made in 3rd world countries may be putting shelter over a head and food on a table that might otherwise be empty. I abhor children working in poverty in unsafe working conditions, all of us do. But I personally believe it’s my support of programs to change those working conditions and not my boycott of those goods that is going to change things.

Look at the industrial revolution in our country. Not much more than 100 years or so ago, we also had children working in unsafe conditions in factories and farms. But we managed to legislative and unionize and protect our children – and adults. This process is an evolution of learning and growth. Which brings me to my last point - - - the union played an important part in our history, but it is that same unionization to which, today, I attribute much of our financial turmoil. Because of unions, we pay factory workers more than we do our teachers and our police officers. Our President makes far less than many CEO’s across the country. We are in a topsy-turvy society that is, today, seeking to normalize. The union had its place, but then instead of going away, became a powerful entity that is today holding our country hostage. Many of our jobs went away to these third world countries because none of us wants to pay $200 for an iron that today we pay $29.73 for (at Walmart, I might add) - - - which is what it would be if that job stayed here. Do I advocate the elimination of all unions? No, absolutely not, but somewhere we have to draw the line and say it is not right to pay a factory worker building cars more than the teacher to whom we entrust our children.

Complex questions and issues to which there is no right or wrong answer; I strongly believe we each have to live according to what we think is right for each of us, be non-judgmental and supportive when others make different decisions, and hug our children as often as possible. Today, I am simply thankful to have my family and friends, and to be alive and able to fight the struggle to keep my head above water.

Love you, Whoozyermama!