Bicycle Fixation Weblog

Home » Archives » March 2007 » Thinking Outside the Big Box

[Previous entry: "Paris to Become "City of Bicycles""] [Next entry: "Chrome Nickel Plating - but not for bikes anymore."]

03/28/2007: "Thinking Outside the Big Box"
Stacy Mitchell, of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, recently published a superb short analysis of the environemntal problems posed by Wal*Mart and other big-box stores, and how all the greenwash in the world won't mitigate the devastation they impose not only on the planet but on our human societies. A quote referring to Wal*Mart's recent "greening" initiatives notes:
Wal-Mart's initiatives have just enough meat to have distracted much of the environmental movement, along with most journalists and many ordinary people, from the fundamental fact that, as a system of distributing goods to people, big-box retailing is as intrinsically unsustainable as clear-cut logging is as a method of harvesting trees.

Here's the key issue. Wal-Mart's carbon estimate omits a massive source of CO2 that is inherent to its operations and amounts to more than all of its other greenhouse-gas emissions combined: the CO2 produced by customers driving to its stores.

The dramatic growth of big-box retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot, over the last 15 years has been mirrored by an equally dramatic rise in how many miles we travel running errands. Between 1990 and 2001 (the most recent year for which the U.S. Department of Transportation has data), the number of miles that the average American household drove each year for shopping grew by more than 40 percent.

It's not that we are going to the store more often, but rather that each trip is an average of about two miles longer. The general trend toward suburbanization is only partly to blame: shopping-related driving grew three times as fast as driving for all other purposes. The culprit is big-box retail. These companies have displaced tens of thousands of neighborhood and downtown businesses and consolidated the necessities of life into massive stores that aggregate car-borne shoppers from large areas.
To read the entire article, go to Grist.

Big-boxes destroy not only watersheds but communities, pollute not only air but hearts, and isolate us us all in cars on broad bleak roads--which leaves us little to do for satisfaction but keep on buying, buying, buying, until we die.

Keep this in mind as you ride through your city, and support the merchants who support real life--your corner grocer, your mid-block hardware store, your indy coffee house, your backstreet bike shop...places where you're more than just an entry in a ledger book.

The revolution will be localized.

Search the Blog Archives

Browse the Archives

Environmental Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

A Few Good Blogs....

Kent Peterson
LADOT Bike Blog
Lovely Bicycle!
Saddle Americana