A few days ago someone I respect posted a link to my blog on hibs.net (For those reading outwith Scotland or the world of football, ‘Hibs’ is Hibernian, one of the big Edinburgh teams). I’ve had quite a few people viewing and some comments so thanks for that.
I’ve had pretty positive feedback to this experiment so far but I was interested that one of the hibs.net commentators suggested s/he was disappointed that I’d still been shopping online. I felt a bit indignant as my remit is ‘Giving up Supermarkets’ but then I read back to my first posts about this experiment and noted that indeed I’d stuffed my expected advantage and disadvantage predictions full of references to local shopping and carrying home heavy bags. Reality check for me!
Already what I have learned in the last week has changed my idea of what being plunged into a life without the supermarket would be like, for someone with full time care of two children at least. I am giving an honest account though so I will document my highs and lows, my successes and the things I want to do better. Although I certainly never stated I would avoid using the internet, it is true that I hadn’t considered its role in this experiment. I didn’t see any problem with using the Ethical Superstore or ordering a veg box from a local organic farm. One of the reasons I am avoiding supermarkets is as a reaction to the ‘horsemeat scandal’. I don’t believe the big supermarkets which have been negligent towards their customers in this episode deserve our loyalty and for 28 days I am voting with my feet.
Further, in the last week I have visited at least six ‘local businesses’ and blogged about them. However they have all involved trips in the car (not very ethical in my book), the alternative having been too difficult for me to face this week! I have three weeks of my experiment left and I hope to get organised to be able to support more local businesses and to avoid situations like yesterday when I realised we were running low on nappies…
Being short of time, I decided I couldn’t go to a local chemist and risk them not stocking the brand and size I needed (it is one of the less common sizes). Instead we drove to a shopping complex 10 minutes away and went to Boots. The joke was almost on me when it looked like they didn’t have the size but happily I found a few packets and threw them into the trolley alongside some other toiletries I would normally buy at the supermarket. The price was comparable to what I usually pay but while being pleased with that, I did feel guilty for using a big shop. (And yes, this experiment is reminding me that disposable nappies are not the most ethical of options…)
Although I have not used the supermarket, I am starting to think more about my shopping choices and feel uncomfortable about using bigger shopping chains. I haven’t fully researched the trading practices of big shops yet so I may find my guilt is misplaced, depending on where I shop.
When I benefit from the advantages of local shopping (supporting small businesses, buying higher quality produce, discovering new shops) I have enjoyed the buzz. I think this experiment so far has opened my eyes to the more ethical alternatives out there and to the fact that I can buy better quality food for my family. Lazy shopping at the supermarket has stopped me thinking as much as I should about what I am buying.
To counterbalance my guilt surrounding the nappy purchasing, I will make a list of five local chemists and phone them all to find out if they stock the size of nappies I need and to ask how much they are. Would I have managed to buy local if I’d prioritised it? I hope to let you know soon…