July 22, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California
Right now, many of us in the developed world shop by driving to large chain stores — this is especially true in North America, but has become common elsewhere too.
The problem is, this way of shopping adds an enormous ecological burden to all the goods we buy: not only do we burn gas getting to the store and back, but the building and operation of that store and its parking lot have a huge impact; the supply chain that keeps huge stores stocked with masses of various kinds of goods adds more impacts; while the packaging and sales presentation of the goods we buy tops it all off with more energy and materials waste. From the lighting to the loading docks, the freezer cases to the shopping carts, conventional retail is unsustainable.
Retail today has other costs as well. Big chain stores are not generally known for their excellent labor practices, meaning that part of the savings we get by shopping in them comes from the mistreatment of the people who serve us while we’re there. The kinds of volumes that it takes to stock big box chain stores means that these stores will only buy things in huge orders, often from the lowest-cost big provider, which often means supporting sweat shop work conditions, factory farmed food or toxic knock-off products. Furthermore, because the backstories of the objects they sell is often so atrocious, big chain stores are often at the forefront of fighting transparency and labeling laws…
Not all chains are as bad as this, of course, [b]ut there are real limits to how much the model of big box, auto-dependent chain stores can be improved…
[Instead… Webfronts; Flexible Spaces; Micro-commerce; Backstories and Display Transparency; Delivery; Drop Shops and Reverse Supply Chains]… Keep reading at Worldchanging→