Daily shopping: an unexpected reversal

A recent study concluded that lots of green consumers shop at warehouse stores. I believe it. About a year ago, my husband bought a bottle of shampoo so large that it’s still half full in the shower, its plastic degraded and cracking. Last week, he came home with a 3-year supply of Q-tips. This has got me thinking, can we improve both our quality of life and our footprint by changing our shopping habits?

I used to shake my head at people and cultures who cling to daily shopping routines. What a hassle, to shop every day for the things you need to fix a meal. Women in those societies will never make it outside the home, I’d think, and thank God for household refrigeration which lets us buy enough food for a week, all at once.

A recent self-examination paints a different picture. When warehouse stores first emerged, we went about once a quarter. We’d pick up enormous quantities of things we used a lot, like toilet paper; the low prices would seduce us into buying large quantities of things we only needed in small quantities; and we’d buy a few weird things we’d never seen before but were so cheap we couldn’t resist. Now, we follow about that same pattern but we visit almost weekly.

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