My Year without Walmart
For as long as I can remember, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions that I can’t keep: eat healthy foods, exercise more, forego sleazy murder mysteries and read only educational books.
Those were my resolutions every year. And every year, usually well before January 30, I had broken everyone.
That’s why I was so excited when I read an article about a family in Seattle who had resolved to try an entire year without purchasing anything made in China. According to the article, they struggled—I mean who really wants to buy your son a pair of tennis shoes that cost $395, just to get them from a country besides China—but they managed to keep their resolution for an entire year.
Well, if they had done something like that, so could I, I reasoned.
I’d read about Chinese employees forced to work long hours in toxic environments for little pay. I had taken part in “Buy American” and “Made in the USA” discussions.
My year would boycott goods made in China, while helping me break from what had become a weekly addiction to shopping at Walmart, a big seller of Chinese goods.
I wrote my resolution down. I taped it to my refrigerator. I did not add other, sure-to-fail resolutions. I focused on results.
And do you know what? It wasn’t that difficult to keep my year without Walmart resolution.
When I needed vitamins, I popped into Walgreen’s. When I needed sandpaper or steel wool or spring bedding plants, I visited the hardware store. When I needed groceries, I went to Dillon’s or became reacquainted with my hometown grocer.
That’s it really.
Except that while I was zipping around to other stores—all within a few blocks of each other—I discovered I was having lots more fun than I’d had wandering down row after row of imported goods in Walmart.
For one thing, I wasn’t getting depressed thinking about persecuted workers. Secondly, I was spending way less money since I was no longer impulse buying. And lastly, I was connecting with people who actually knew about the products they were selling, gave real advice, and seemed to be in a pretty good mood while they were doing it.
During my year without Walmart, I had occasion to remember a time several years before, when my son was young and money was tight in our house. One day I was ranting around the house, worrying about having enough money to pay the house payment and the electric bill both in the same week.
My son took me by the hand and said, “Mom, we need to go to Walmart and walk around for a while.”
“We have no money to buy anything, even at Walmart!” I shouted.
“That’s the point,” he told me. “We’ll walk around and see all the things we don’t want anyway.”
He was right, of course. Walmart purposely sets itself up to make people think they need lots of stuff they don’t need. Lots of stuff workers in China or another country produce while working in horrible conditions.
My year without Walmart (and—mostly, at least—without goods made in China) was successful and long-lasting, and I’d recommend it to others.
I’m proud to say that this is the one resolution I managed to keep.
This is Lynne Hewes in Cimarron, a more thoughtful shopper after my successful experience.