I’ve made it through Day 2!
Yes, this isn’t a revolutionary amount of time, but I have already faced some temptation and made some realizations.
Yesterday I went to Walmart over my lunch break. Never again.
My boyfriend convinced me they have a good organic produce department and a wide local selection. My first thought was, “Not good for the farmers!” This is material for a separate post, but essentially Walmart has the money to become the largest buyer for a smaller supplier, making the supplier (farmer) dependent on their account; and then Walmart wields its power to squeeze farmers’ profits. They’ve done this to suppliers at various levels over the years.
Walmart also has a poor reputation for labor ethics among suppliers.
Still, I went along to check it out.
When we arrived at the Torrance Walmart, it was the exact scene you would expect: Jam-packed, tons of unruly children and crying babies, and the kinds of crazy you would literally see on a People of Walmart website.
Basically, if you want to see what institutional classism and racism looks like, I highly recommend walking around this store. You can also gain a healthy realization of how Walmart truly destroys communities. A very high percentage of obesity, lots of people with overt health problems like limping, home-made bandages, missing teeth. We are truly failing as a society. But of everything we saw and experienced, the fact that there was no fresh produce was the most frightening to me.
Anyway, early on my boyfriend did find a popcorn maker I’d been wanting, but I was able to resist.
Package delivery trucks have stopped at my house 4 times today: USPS, UPS, Amazon, and one DHL. Granted we have quite a few people here in this co-living situation, but it still seems pretty environmentally unfriendly.
Turns out, during the pandemic many environmentalist groups looked at the impact of online shopping and found that it was often much worse for the environment than driving a car to a store. You drive to the store in a car, park, shop, buy (or window shop) and have an experience, then go home. The delivery vans are out driving for hours and hours every day to get your product to you. And unlike a shopping trip where you might pick up several things you need, you often only get one item delivered.
Plus, not everyone does (or should!) go by car. There’s even less impact if you’re traveling to the store by bicycle, on foot, on scooter, or via public transportation.
On the front end, Amazon has forced more sellers to eat 2-day/ expedited shipping costs. The cost of shipping by boat or plane for just one or a few items is often related to the fuel and energy costs. If you don’t pay that cost, though, it can be easy to forget that environmental impact.
The last thing about shopping online that is worse for the environment? The packaging. I realized this yesterday as I was taking several boxes to the recycling (from an item I ordered weeks ago— it was grandfathered in): If I bought that at the store, it would only have its one box, and I could take it home in a re-usable bag. But instead, it had packing plastic, several packing slips and inserts, and a larger outer box. And I had no re-usability for any of those boxes, unfortunately.
When I peered into the recycling bin, we as a household had already accumulated several such boxes over the past 3 days.
During the pandemic, and for people in rural/ remote areas, online shopping has been a saving grace for getting necessary supplies. But as things open up here in Los Angeles, I have to wonder about the impact of all the things I buy online just for entertainment.
Yes, part of the realizations leading up to Buy Nothing April are that I scroll Google Shopping, Etsy, Poshmark, Thredup, and all kinds of online shops just out of boredom or as a time filler. I add to cart and save to favorites list. My Instagram is full of highly-targeted socially conscious products. I sign up for newsletters and discount text and often do come back and buy.
In the marketing business we call that a conversion, and it means the shops’ marketing efforts are working. The problem on my end is that I end up purchasing all kinds of things I don’t need, don’t like very much when I actually receive them in the mail, or, the worst, they don’t fit.
After my foray with scammy companies and commitment to get my wardrobe grade to a B by the end of 2021, I can at least say the quality of these purchases is high. But a year ago, that wasn’t the case, and a lot of these purchases were crap, in addition to not fitting, not being needed, not being the right product, not being as exciting as in the ad, and having a major environmental impact.
Buy Nothing April is forcing me to do something else constructive with my time, like reading business books or blogging!