The dishes are running, the dryer is drying, chicken is cooking, errands have been run, and I have a nice glass of Irish Cream on the rocks. Brace yourself, people. We are heading into full rant mode!
I am not going to go into any of the “it’s a giant evil corporation that treats its employees horrifically” stuff. You probably know all about that and have already decided if you agree or disagree, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse. My issues with Walmart are much more personal, and therefore make me more violent (hence the alcohol; I self-medicate).
I went to Walmart today with a list of 5 things. I bought one of them before I gave up and left. I went to my HEB for the other things instead (HEB is a Texas chain of grocery stores, and you should weep everyday that you don’t have access to one, they’re that awesome). Here’s my problems with Walmart, in no particular order:
1. People always go out of their way to block as much of the aisle as possible. Today I had to turn around on three different aisles and head back the way I came because all the inconsiderate jerks in the area moseyed over to Wally World today. I got stuck by a woman blocking an entire 4-way intersection with her cart, herself, and her children that she was carefully ignoring destroying merchandise and beating each other. Keep in mind, I was in the store for twenty minutes.
2. I had to buy a dog crate for my darling Flapjack. The display dog crates were 6 (I counted) aisles from the purchasable crates, which were on the top shelf, and uber heavy. Of course there were no employees around to help me, and even if there had been, what use is an 87 year old lady going to be? Whoever loaded the boxes over there must have been the same guy that put the Arc of the Covenant in storage, because he obviously didn’t expect it to ever come out again.
3. The price tags do not show the cost per unit. I have to have my cell phone out the whole time I’m there to figure out what’s the best deal. How am I supposed to do the math in my head to figure out how much per ounce the 63.5 ounce container is? HEB puts the price per ounce, or sometimes per count, right on the label, so you know just what you’re getting. Maybe I’m spoiled, but if so that’s just more evidence why you should campaign HEB to open one in your area.
4. The store brands were more expensive that the name brands. I looked at dish washing detergent and light bulbs, and on both of these items the store brand cost significantly more than the name brand. The light bulbs were about a dollar more, and the detergent about $0.50. They are counting on the fact that people assume the “Great Value” brand will be the cheapest option and pick it up without looking. It is totally their right to prey on the stupidity of their customers, but I’m hoping you are too clever to fall for their schemes (or at least will be aware of it now that your resident Clever Chick has pointed it out). I just don’t want any of my loyal minions to be duped!
5. I hate it!!! Something about the warehouse feeling, the chaos of the aisles, or the over-dry air inside Walmart creates some kind of visceral discomfort in me. I can’t explain it, but the second I walk in the door my shoulders tense up, and I can’t wait to be out of there. The buildings look like they should be in the USSR, holding people for thought crimes. And (at least in the one I was in today) the aisles are short and set at right angles to each other, and nothing was in any kind of logical place. Why is lotion next to pet stuff? Why are dishes next to hardware? Why is fishing gear next to party supplies? Walmart is all the things I detest: inefficiency, fake frugality (or frauxgality, as I like to call it), and clutter.
I want you all to know how hard it was for me to relive the horrors of Walmart. I did it just to save you the effort of finding out for yourselves. Now, maybe the healing can begin.
After I wrote my mini-frauxgalness rant (hasn’t that phrase caught on yet? Jeez), I realized there’s another faux-eco occurance that arises constantly. I call it faux-green, because I haven’t thought of anything better yet. You spammers constantly commenting could try posting something useful for a change, and let me know if you think of something more clever.
I touched on the concept of faux-green in a previous post. Planet Green is constantly guilty of this type of thing. The whole show “Emeril Green” is only as green as the horse poo it’s made of. Simply using organic ingredients in cooking DOES NOT make it eco-friendly! You can’t ship special, rare, expensive, organic olive oil all the way from Italy or Nepal or somewhere and call it green (well green in color, yes, in enviromental impact, no). Shipping things from that far away leads to tons of fuel use, for what I consider to be very little gain, environment-wise.
Another problem is called “green washing”. Companies put some kind of pseudo eco-label on their product, without actually doing anything beneficial for the environment. I saw plates at the store the other day with a huge green leaf sticker on each one, that proclaimed “Made from Recycled Content!” in huge letters. In tiny letters below, it said “20% post consumer waste”, or something along those lines. 20%? Really? I’m not going to get excited about that. The worst one I saw, and I can’t remember what it was on, proudly proclaimed that it was made of recyclABLE content. That means they did nothing other than use the same old cardboard or plastic as always, and they want you to do the work of helping the environment.
These kind of things are part of why I am very hesitant to jump onto any trend. I tend to focus on my pocketbook before anything else, and it’s kept me out of trouble so far, knock on wood (which is recyclable!).
I am aware that the blog has been silent for about two weeks now. There are several reasons for this. I am temporarily back to full time at work, my sister, Beans is getting married, and I have been nominated wedding planner, and I’m lazy. I’ve been doing a bunch of stuff to add to the “Interesting” category, but uploading of pictures has not occurred. I thought today I would write a mini-rant about something that really bugs me: fake frugalness (or frauxgal, as I’m calling it).
There are hundreds of websites, books, and blogs that recommend certain things in the name of frugality and eco-friendliness. You really have to sift through the crap to find anything useful. Planetgreen.com, the website from the Discovery Channel network, is a huge perpetrator of this, and I almost want to start a whole other blog that is simply an anti-planet green critique. However, I support the effort they are making, and I realize the volume of content demanded means that a lot of filler is going to be posted.
That being said, here are some of my ultimate pet peeves:
“Make your own simple face wash! All you need are dozens of hard to find, ludicrously expensive ingredients and equipment to make it yourself!” – There are dozens of “recipes” that need all kinds of essential oils, and saflower oil, and one ounce of some expensive ingredient you’ve never heard of, but only comes in giant, expensive bottles at whole foods. How is this saving me money? I can use soap for crap’s sake. What the hell is wrong with soap? Since when is it expensive? And I have an “eco-friendly” recipe for laundry soap that uses Ivory soap, so it can’t be that bad for the envirnoment. This all seems like a lot of work for zero payoff.
“Find some kind of eco-service in your area!” – Why the hell am I reading this website if I have to do all the leg work myself? I realize this is a globally available site, so they can’t be too specific, but all of these writers seem to live in New York or LA. There is not an eco-drycleaner in the entire state of Alabama, and I doubt there is one near me (although I live in Austin, so I may be wrong). Why do I have to go and spend bookoo bucks on eco-friendly anything? I just don’t buy dry-clean only clothes, which is what their advice should have been. There’s also the classic “Find a farmer’s market near you!”. Yeah, I live in Texas. This place is mostly desert and cattle. What can they grow? Oranges and cow feed. The oranges aren’t local to me, so I’m stuck with cow feed. No thanks.
“Don’t rinse your dishes! Today’s modern appliances can clean anything!” – I have seen this gem on MULTIPLE websites. Well I decided to do the MOST eco- and wallet-friendly thing: not replace my dishwasher until it breaks. Yeah. Replacing all your old appliances, which is what many of these sites advocate, creates a huge amount of landfill waste, not to mention all the chemicals and mining of resources used to create the NEW applaince, plus all the fuel to ship it to the store, and then your home, plus the fuel to ship the old one to the landfill. What a load of bollocks. I rinse my dishes because it doesn’t take much water, then I don’t have to run them through the machine twice. Tada! The lazy solution is often the best one.
“Wash your car at a car wash/Wash your car at home!” – These are literal conflicts I’ve seen, and this is the best example. Eco-sites tell you to use a car wash, because it will take less water. What about whatever crazy-ass chemicals Chevron uses? Are we really going to assume that a gas station is using biodegradable soaps, wax, etc? Doubtful. That also leads us back to me doing all the work of finding a possible non-existant eco-carwash. Not feeling it. Washing your car at home may take a bit more water, but it’s far cheaper, and I can control what and home much soap is used. And how about this: don’t wash your car. Maybe it’s just because I live in the biggest state worth living in (I’ve been to Alaska. You aren’t missing anything), but my car is always dirty. I drove three hours each way this weekend to go visit my girlfriends, plus driving a couple hours all around the city of Houston. You tend to hit lots of bugs, exhaust, and dirt with that much driving. Why would I wash it just to watch all that happen again? I understand if you live somewhere where they salt the roads in winter, but I would not have my happy ass in the driveway scrubbing in snow anyway, so that makes it an easy decision for you. I have heard that having a dirty car reduces your fuel efficiency, but I haven’t noticed a change from when my Dad used to take my car to get it washed constantly to now. Driving habits have much more influence on it, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
“Turn this egg carton into an amazing puppet!” – This one really ticks me off. No, I’m not going to spend a bunch of money at Hobby Lobby on rhine stones, glue and glitter to turn a piece of garbage into a pretty piece of garbage. With ANY craft project, look at the final result FIRST, and decide if it’s something you want to keep in your home for ten years. No? Then save your time for something you’ll love to have around, not something you feel obligated to keep just because you made it. I once almost made a mirror surrounded by mardi-gras beads. I have never been to mardi-gras, I have nothing else in my house that is remotely mardi-gras related, I have no desire to go to mardi-gras, or decorate any area in my house with that theme. I also did not own a mirror for it, or have enough glue, so I would have had to buy both of those things just to create a huge, tacky mirror I wouldn’t want in my house. Solution? Donate the beads to a thrift store. I worked at a thrift store for a long time, and they can sell just about anything. If you have scraps of fabric and things, they can sell the fabric in bulk to another company who recycles the fibers into other stuff, so the charity makes even more money. Use this rule if you’re not sure: if it’s trash, throw it away. If someone else could use it, donate it to a thrift store.
There are other situations similar to these, but these are examples that typify what I’ve seen. Bottom line: if you have to spend a lot of money it’s not frugal, and I doubt it’s eco-friendly enough to be worthwhile. End of rant.