April 16, 2008

costco love/hate

Today I went to Costco to get some food for a crowd (for a party). As I walked in I felt kind of judgmental of all the "stuff" lined up enticing me to buy. I'm guilty of falling for it all the time when I go there. I tell myself, "I'm only going to purchase X and Y" and yet I leave with those plus five other items that I convince myself I need.

I recognize from all my eco-research that they also sell many items which are not great for the environment. I saw a woman who bought a huge container of conventional automatic dish washing detergent and I wanted to scream about how bad that product is for the environment. Of course I didn't! But the experience made me wonder why I shop there at all if my values are not aligned with it.

Thankfully, I did see a few items that were eco-friendly, and it occurred to me that there is a place for these stores in our lives. Not everyone is going to run off and join the commune to save the planet. If we can get more eco-friendly products available in stores like Costco, imagine the impact it would make.

Of course it would be better if we all bought our goods from the farmers market and never bought a packaged item again, but is that ever going to happen? Everything in life seems to come back to finding a balance. The balance is what I am searching for, between the worlds I straddle of eco-idealism and modern American reality.

Just for the record—I did buy more than I went for. And it wasn't all eco-perfect. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

The important thing is that you're trying. I fall off at least once a week. I think we still shop at this big stores because of convenience and lower cost. Darned if do and darned empty pocket book if we don't shop big boys.
And yet... they're still taking my money. Darned no matter what.

Jen said...

I am the same way with Wal-Mart. I hate shopping there and try to avoid it, but some stuff is just some much cheaper there. It is a struggle to find a balance.

Mindful Momma said...

I actually quit Costco well over a year ago and I have to say - I don't miss it. Well, maybe I do miss those huge bags of Stacy's pita chips every once in awhile! :)

Lisa B said...

They do have have environmentally friendly laundry detergent.

Mary Beth said...

Hi Amy. I'm embarrassed to ask, but what should I be putting in the dishwasher? I honestly didn't give it any thought before your post.

mom go green said...

hi mary beth,
don't be embarrassed! that's why i write the blog. it is all news to me, too. i'll do a post on the detergents. the conventional ones contain phosphates, chlorine and petroleum ingredients.
better to choose a product from an eco-brand (which are pretty easy to find) such as: biokleen, ecover, seventh generation, or even trader joe's. i do think it helps to use a rinse agent also, and you can also find eco-brands of those. i have one by earth friendly products.
i'll do the post this week with some links to phosphate info.

David J. Phillips said...

From recycling to cutting energy consumption by using energy-efficient lighting and equipment in stores, retailers have long sought to minimize their environmental footprints.

Will it ever be a sum zero enterprise for retailers? From the square-footage of big-box retailers to the C0-2 released by autos traveling on their way to the mass merchandisers, can retailers ever hope to diminish the size of their carbon footprints?


My Best,

David J Phillips
Contributing Energy Analyst

Anonymous said...

If you live in MI. Earth Friendly Products is doing a Roadshow with 6 items. They took Ecos detergent out of the MI stores in Jan. But for 3 more weeks in June you can buy the stuff at 3 stores. They've got Dishmate for hand washing dishes and hand washing. a Pet accident thing, all-purpose cleaner I got some of that last week. I works good. Toilet stuff. The 210 oz Bottle of Ecos I got a couple to last me a while and a oxy like cleaner thats pretty good. Well to other green buyers they only sell it Th-Sun. This week they are in Roseville, next week Brighton, and last week of June Madison Hts. The girls told me if sales are high and people keep complaining it might return. I'm going to call some friends and head to Roseville and get some more stuff.