19 June 2008

it's not easy being green

Last weekend, my husband and I went to Home Depot for a few things, including some washers for a project of his. (For the record, I loathe Home Depot, IKEA, Costco - all box stores, really. I can't look up or I get dizzy, and I'm utterly paranoid unless I can keep track of where I am so I know how to get OUT. Since I have a lousy no sense of direction, and since those places are designed to force you to go through every bloody utterly fascinating aisle, you can imagine how pleased I am to go to these hellholes places.)

I grew up in a suburban Long Island town where the (still) thriving main street included three little hardware stores. You could go into any of them, ask for any size nails or washers or bolts, and the owner would pluck it out of a little drawer for you.

Well, Home Depot has a lovely selection of washers. I'll give them that. BUT - they're packaged in little plastic bags, sealed and barcoded, 5 per bag.

Think about it. Some factory somewhere received a shipment of metal, which itself had been shipped. It made the washers. So far, so good. Then it shipped the washers to a plant to be packaged in little plastic baggies and barcoded. Then those little baggies were shipped to a central place from which Home Depot and other Megastores ordered them. They were, then, shipped to every Home Depot in the world, where they were sorted and displayed in a huge store on a huge display in a store in which you have to lie on the floor to see the ceiling. The customer, who has driven to the store unless she has the misfortune to live in an industrial court, selects the washers, pays at a self-serve checkout, puts the washers in a plastic bag, and drives home.

Almost every step from "Then it shipped the washers" could be cut out if we still had little hardware stores. All of the plastic, all of the gasoline used in all of the transportation, all of the energy to light, heat, and cool the Megastores, the plastic bags - all would be unnecessary.

Some of us still have little hardware stores - at least, littler than the Megas. I suppose this rant could be condensed into two words, green words: buy local.

(I'm still obsessing on those damn washers. Can you tell? The only step I managed to cut out was the plastic bag to carry the washers out of the store. It was not enough.)

Now as if we didn't already know this:

You Are 0% Republican

If you have anything in common with the Republican party, it's by sheer chance.

You're a staunch liberal, and nothing is going to change that!


amy said...

My husband found an online quiz for me that landed you in one of several categories (it almost looked like a Venn Diagram). I ended up squarely Libertarian, but this isn't any surprise to me.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

I have the same republican rating you do. And I agree with you about the stores. You are absolutely correct.

Unknown said...

I work in a small, privately-owned general dry goods variety store (need nails? nail polish? bed sheets, sandpaper sheets? even yarn or needles? Come visit me!) which has ACE as its hardware company. Things do come through carded or in plastic bags of five, but our nuts and bolts come in bulk and you pick out what you want. Just don't ask for my help, or expect I will know the price of thousands of tiny bits of hardware in Aisle 11! I'm good, but not that good;).

I couldn't check even one of the choices on that quiz, I don't think.

Unknown said...

Ok, I checked one thing.

Donna Lee said...

Product packaging is a sore subject here. My doctor gave me some sample medicine. In one 4 inch square box was a tiny bottle with 5 pills in it. 5. The utter waste of the packaging is mind boggling. Just one small blister pack would serve the same purpose.

Stefanie said...

Tell us how you really feel about those big stores ;) I know what you mean though. We go to our neighborhood hardware store whenever possible, but unfortunately, there are some things you need right now that can't be got at the neighborhood store (like the toilet we unexpectedly had to replace last weekend). sigh.

teabird said...

Stefanie, I know - but really, how often does one need a new toilet?

Seriously, I might not be so flipped out about these stores if there weren't so many of them - I can drive to 5 of them in 15 minutes. There's a Lowe's across the street from Home Depot.


Roggey said...

My grocery store has sort of become like that - I don't like it. I don't like malls, huge shopping complexes or vast warehouse shopping places like Walmart, Sam's, etc. It's hard though, the little guys I shop at are retiring and no one is replacing them.

Nana Sadie said...

I dislike the big boxes, too. And I scored as you did on the quiz (surprised?).
I want to live and work in the city with plenty of greenspaces, use mass transit, carry home my veggies and bread in string bags...and frequent small, locally owned stores. And enjoy the world thru the internet - can't miss out on what's happening with my knit buds!

La Duchesse said...

Bless you! :) Agree(billions)

BettyBoop53 said...

Packaging is a sore point with me. I bought my husband a shirt for Father's Day . . . a nice brand. I usually buy a shirt from the rack but didn't like the colours or his size wasn't there. I picked a shirt from the shelf. The shirt wasn't sealed in plastic. Before I could throw it in the washer I had to remove a hanging tag, a sticky tag, two big pieces of plastic, two pieces of cardboard,an enormous piece of tissue and eight pins just so this shirt would look nice on the shelf for the consumer. I recycled the plastic and cardboard. I put the pins in a my sewing basket. I don't think many people do this though. Does anyone think all this packaging totally unnecessary?

La Duchesse said...

YES! Totally, completely, and utterly unneccessary.

Did you bleach the pins?

BettyBoop53 said...

Bleach the pins?

La Duchesse said...

To make sure there weren't any germs on them? Mom used to keep pins from things like that and she always bleached them to sterilize them.. just in case.

Paula said...

I totally agree with you!
I miss the shops that had the old bins of washers, screw, nails etc...and where you can go in with a project in mind and ask for what you need and the clerk Actually knows where it is and what else you many need.
I went into Lowes a month ago to fix a screen and the clerk not only did not know where the roll of screening was but if they had any and told me to just wander about!!!
I can't believe all the intelligence in the world has reduced us to clueless rude clerks in large concrete boxes that spend enough on electricity to light up Pluto!

P.S. what did the Dr. say?

Carrie K said...

I'm only 4% Republican? Huh.

Don't go into a ...Food Mart? I wandered into one (it was the only grocery store by the hotel my job had booked me into) and I was scared to death I wasn't going to be able to GET. OUT. It herded you to the back of the store and then into a maze. It was slighly panic inducing.