Thursday, May 29, 2008

On Wise Bread: CVSing's Dark Side

I have a new post on Wise Bread countering some naysayers' criticisms about playing the CVS game. Already the critics are piling on to my post, which is great because a good debate tends to drive up the page views and I get paid for readership of that blog.

Most of the criticism of CVSing is silly to me, which I addressed in the post. One criticism that does stick with me though: It's not a very environment-friendly thing to do. Guilty as charged.

Many money-making items at CVS are things I would buy anyway, and I think people who wouldn't buy them are rare: For example, toothbrushes, regular toilet paper and shampoo. Yes, there are more environmentally friendly brands available at other places, but to be honest I didn't buy those to begin with. I did go out of my way to buy the Trader Joe's dishwasher detergent and home cleaner, but that was about it.

However, there are also things offered for free or better at CVS that I would normally not buy because a) I don't need/like them and b) they are not good for the environment. For instance, all that Glade spray I bought recently. That to me is not only an unnecessary chemical product, but Epu and I don't even like any kind of fragrance in our atmosphere. We're both a bit sensitive in that way.

But my grandmother BUYS Glade spray. She uses it. She would have used it whether she got it from me or from the store. So, yeah, I bought it, and as I took it off the shelf the supply chain all the way back to the Glade factory pushed another environment-damaging can down the line.

I'm not thrilled about that, but here's how I see it: It's one of those necessary evils connected with making our living in the modern world. Yes, we could all quit our jobs because we use fossil fuels to get to work and none of the companies we work for are carbon-neutral. But only a tiny percentage of us will do that. The rest of us sigh about the collateral damage our lifes are causing and get on with our days.

Yes, I'd like to buy only environmentally-friendly products, but in order to buy those things, I would probably have to go back to work and put the kids in day care. Yes, I suppose we could scale way, way back and spend the money we already have in our budget only on the ingredients for homemade shampoo and cleaners, organic milk and produce, and heck, the money we'd save by giving up our car and walking everywhere would help out a bit.

But we haven't decided to undertake that radical lifestyle switch, so in the meantime, we're getting what we need in part through CVSing. And lord, buying a little extra toothpaste and even chemical cleaner that I donate to the needy is not exactly up there with the top environment wreckers of the earth.


Marketing Mommy said...

Top environmental wreckers? Celine Dion apparently uses 6.5 million gallons of water a year for her Florida property. And she doesn't even live there! Kind of makes your Glade spray purchases look like a drop in the proverbial bucket.