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Philosophical Dilemma

OK, so as the topic states, I have a Philosophical dilemma.  Environmental sustainability and taking care of the Earth is very important to me.  I think about nearly everything I do and how it impacts the environment.  I am very passionate about humane business practices, as well.  I try my best not to shop at stores that I think have questionable business ethics.  For example, I hate Wal Mart. 

I have been making my own household clearners for a while now, and have just begun making my own laundry detergent, too.  Since I have been making all my own cleaners, I use a lot of baking soda, vinegar, and washing soda.  Herein lies my dilemma.  Instead of buying these items at the grocery store, I buy them at Sam's Club (my parents have a membership) in bulk (which are usually really large containers).  So.  Does the amount I'm saving on packaging outweigh the fact that I am supporting a store whose business practices do not match my values.

Disclaimer:  I'm just curious about what people have to say.  I've already made up my mind that the packaging issue is more important to me. 

it's like i think about everything. we live in a world that isn't set up to easily accommodate us. you have to pick your battles and weigh it out. yes, wally world isn't the best place to get stuff, but what are your alternatives that you can afford and get reduced packaging?

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A third option, something I suggest in general for dealing with this sort of corporation: you could continue to shop there, but offset the business you give them by taking things without paying. 

It isn't stealing, I think, since stealing requires that the item belong to the victim, and Walmart/Sam's comes by its wares so unjustly that we cannot seriously consider those items to belong to them in any morally significant way.  Or you can consider yourself to have paid for them, through the ways that Walmart illicitly absorbs your tax dollars.

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A third option, something I suggest in general for dealing with this sort of corporation: you could continue to shop there, but offset the business you give them by taking things without paying. 

It isn't stealing, I think, since stealing requires that the item belong to the victim, and Walmart/Sam's comes by its wares so unjustly that we cannot seriously consider those items to belong to them in any morally significant way.  Or you can consider yourself to have paid for them, through the ways that Walmart illicitly absorbs your tax dollars.

I kind of like this idea Cephi.  The only problem is, I don't think using that logic will work at the Richland County Courthouse.  ;)

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They recently began a policy of prosecuting first-timers only when the items taken value $25 or more.  So, up until the first time you get caught, there's no reason not to take $24 worth of stuff every time you're in there.

http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/13/news/companies/walmart_shoplifters/index.htm

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wow cephi! i never even thought of it that way!!

lotus:
if i were in your situation i might try to purchase items in bulk on the internets.  ahhh, but then again, environmentalism is the idea, and shipping something accross the country is not good for the country.  ok i take that back.  go to sam's club, steal like cephi said.  and continually write letters to the corporate heads about how they could stop being jerks. 

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I was given a gift membership to sams and have been using it.  I can get things in bulk and it saves me a trip because it is on my way home from work.  Sams Club/Walmart are large corporations so they have their problems.  They are also doing a lot to fix them (everything from their own organic cotton line to commissioning less toxic fluorescent bulbs to installing solar arrays) and get green issues in the news.

P.S.  Stealing is stealing, no matter how you look at it.  Stealing from a company you believe is immoral doesn't make your actions any less immoral.

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On a non-stealing note...you could find alternative places to buy the ingredients...We get a lot of stuff through places like Frankferd Farms which specializes in organics and vegan/vegetarian items. A lot of stuff we get from there comes in bulk too (ahem...50 pounds of organic rolled oats... :D) but it's not a large corporation like Walmart/Sam's Club. I don't know the standard pricing of things, but I do know they have 5 pound bags of baking soda for under $3. So there's an option that might appease your philosophical nagging. :-)

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P.S.  Stealing is stealing, no matter how you look at it.  Stealing from a company you believe is immoral doesn't make your actions any less immoral.

Stealing is stealing, but I don't think this is stealing.

Suppose you're walking in, say, a national forest (public land).  And you come to a small grove of apple trees.  Some greedy person, when you approach the apple trees, shouts at you not to touch those apples; those are her apples, so stay away, or else pay her for an apple.  She runs others away from the trees, and she adds to the apples there by walking around clubbing people over the head, taking their apples, and tossing them amongst the trees.  Now, this person clearly intends to claim the apples as her property.  But she has no right to them.  She is unjustly claiming ownership over the apples.  If you take one anyway, you have stolen nothing, since the apples did not belong to her.

Walmart is the same sort of situation.  They absorb our taxes through corporate welfare gotten through corrupt politics; in exchange, they destroy our towns.  They steal the labor of their employees through unfair labor practices, and then they run around yelling at you to stay away from the fruits of that welfare and stolen labor -- unless you want to pay them, of course.  Well, they're no different from the apple-hoarder.  Actually, scratch that; they are much worse, since the apple hoarder seems mostly harmless (depending on how hard she's clubbing people), and you might pay her for an apple just to humor her.  Walmart is not harmless; supporting them is not harmless.  They are certainly stealing from us, but to take their ill-gotten goods from them in return is not stealing, since they do not have the right to those goods in the first place.

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Cephi, I LOVE your passion on this subject.  This is what I was looking for in starting this thread. 

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I'm really hungry for some apples right about now.
Maybe I'll go liberate a few from wal mart  ;)

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I'm really hungry for some apples right about now.
Maybe I'll go liberate a few from wal mart  ;)

I know walmart's expanded a lot in the recent past, but they have apples? when was the last time I was in a walmart... I can't really remember, but I definitely don't recall any apples. probably different in Canada.

but yes, I too abstain from walmart-ing. just stepping inside one gives me the chills! and I've never been to a sam's club... I'm a little intimidated by them.

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wow, Cephi, I really do feel relieved that I'm not the only one who'd feel justified in "stealing" from such a corporation.  the law is the law, and I'm always aware that there can be consequences, but I don't know if I always agree with it.

for instance, I'm pretty sure that dumpster diving is a punishable offense around here, but I think it's a totally worthwhile thing to do (if you know what to look for or avoid, etc.).  Making use out of something that would otherwise become waste = trespassing or property theft in the eyes of cops ..... in this case I have to say, fuck the cops.

Wal-Mart will continue its mistreatment of employees, purchasing and selling of sweatshop-manufactured goods, and rising higher than anyone else, leaving destruction and pollution in its path--regardless of whether some of its merchandise goes unaccounted (unpaid) for...it's not like that actually affects their profit margin, it's not what's *making* them mistreat their workers, etc.

btw, Lotus, I'm not necessarily trying to perpetuate this option if it's something you're not comfortable with.
I do encourage you to explore your options for sources.....look online for places that sell in bulk, and you might find some that are comparable price-wise, still save packaging, and perhaps don't contribute to a corporation that goes to evil means to provide your supplies.

oh, and I'm totally digging that you make this stuff yourself.  I'm all about sustainable living, and there are several measures that I know I should take to minimize my own carbon footprint on the planet, including what you're describing here.  I need to get on it!

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Thanks for all the great responses.  I have thought about the online thing, and I do order things online sometimes, but the shipping is what has stopped me.  I have wondered if it's really that big of a deal though...I mean, if I'm buying in bulk, it's not like I would be having things shipped on a daily basis.  I don't know.  It is something I will probably give more thought.  I hate Wal Mart so much.  Whenever I go into Sam's Club, I swear I can feel a little part of my soul die.  But hey...I'm doing it to help the environment, so it's ok, right?  :-\

Oh, and I could never take anything I didn't pay for because I would totally get caught.  Haha.  I can see me trying sneak 10 lbs of baking soda and 5 gallons of vinegar out of the store.  It would probably make good tv, though.  ;D

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i agree, explore your options... i remember seeing a literal bulk bin of baking soda somewhere, but the place escapes me.

cephi, i love you.  :D

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Does anyone know about Costco-- are they environmentally/labor friendly, unlike Wal-mart?   Do you have them in your area?  Might be better than supporting Wal-mart/Sam's Club.   :-\

On the stealing/taking note:  Despite others/people/companies who commit wrongs, I feel taking materialistic items deceptively and deceitfully is not a positive foundation to build integrity on.  At the least, it's not an act of positive karma for the perpetrator, so who wants to encourage those repercussions back into your life?  And then there's that whole cliche of "Two wrongs does not make a right" thing, too.   :)

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You could try to use less cleaners?  Maybe consciencely try to make less mess or wear clothes more often before cleaning them.

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Find out how hard/soft the water in your area is. Everyone in my city uses way too much laundry soap for the softness of our local water...which means the clothes are stiff when line-dried, which means they use fabric softener! Fabric softener makes me itch, and once when the washing machine repairman was here, I mentioned. He said, "Use only a third of what the package instructions say, unless your husband has a really dirty job like ditch-digger or something." No need for softener, and I save boocoos! I use the same principle with floor cleaner etc. and it works well.

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Does anyone know about Costco-- are they environmentally/labor friendly, unlike Wal-mart?   Do you have them in your area?  Might be better than supporting Wal-mart/Sam's Club.   :-\

On the stealing/taking note:  Despite others/people/companies who commit wrongs, I feel taking materialistic items deceptively and deceitfully is not a positive foundation to build integrity on.  At the least, it's not an act of positive karma for the perpetrator, so who wants to encourage those repercussions back into your life?  And then there's that whole cliche of "Two wrongs does not make a right" thing, too.   :)

From- The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated by Their Politics and Practices

Costco Wholesale Corp
Contributions: Total $226,303  DEM: $224,303  REP: $2,000

Fought several publicized battles to build controversial high impact stores, including one in New Mexico that included destroying a historic building housing a series of invaluable murals. Its workers are among the highest paid in the retail industry. Is considered union-friendly, having negotiated generous contracts with many of the unions representing its workforce. Has a written nondiscriminating policy covering sexual orientation but not gender identity. Offers insurance coverage to employees' domestic partners.

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I make all my own cleaners too. I just go down to the local feed and seed, buy a big bag of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and that's that. It's cheaper, and comes in 15 pound bags, 20 pound bags, and 50 pound bags. 

For shampoo and body cleaning purposes, though, I use the baking soda for baking in regular stores. But, one box like that for "cosmetic" purposes lasts me months.

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You could try to use less cleaners?  Maybe consciencely try to make less mess or wear clothes more often before cleaning them.

Trust me.  I do this already.  Some people think I should maybe wear my clothes a little less often.  ;) 

I don't use enormous amounts of cleaner or laundry soap, but in most of the stores around here you can only get baking soda in 16 oz boxes, and since I use baking soda for cleaning everything, including myself, I'd like to have to buy it less. 

I make all my own cleaners too. I just go down to the local feed and seed, buy a big bag of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and that's that. It's cheaper, and comes in 15 pound bags, 20 pound bags, and 50 pound bags. 

For shampoo and body cleaning purposes, though, I use the baking soda for baking in regular stores. But, one box like that for "cosmetic" purposes lasts me months.

Hmmm.  I never thought about the feed and seed.  I know they have one where my parents live.  I will try to find one closer to me.  Thanks.  Ecstatic! 

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