Step Six – Big Box Boycott

If you’ve just joined us recently, this post is part of the Ten Steps Series – you can find previous posts under the “Favorites” bar to the right, or under the “Ten Steps” category.

Step Six is the Big Box Boycott.  A big box store is any chain – from the mega-chains like Wal-Mart and McDonalds, to products made by giant corporations like Kraft, even to “smaller” or “eco-friendly” chains such as Whole Foods or a ‘locally owned’ franchise.  (Note: I shopped at Whole Foods for many years, and for some folks they are the only option for buying organic food.  Whole Foods does use many good practices, but they are still a huge corporation which comes with a lot of inherent issues, and if you have other places to buy organic, I strongly encourage you to give your money to your neighbors.)

Why boycott big box stores and large corporations?  The very simple answer is that money is power.  When we give our money to huge corporations, we are freely giving them power, and oh boy do they use it!  Particularly in a political system where we allow lobbying, our government and the decisions made by it, is basically for sale.  Individuals and small businesses do not have the monetary power to affect legislation, but big corporations do.  We can vote, we can petition and demonstrate, but our most effective tool is to not give them our money.


A prime example of the sort of ridiculous behavior we get from chains is one happening here in our Valley.  In Hadley, some of the world’s best soil is being paved over for a Home Depot and Lowe’s, right next door to each other.  And right across the street from the wonderful Hadley Garden Center.

It’s extremely hard for me to believe that our community is large enough to support even one of these mega-stores, much less two of them!  I imagine they will fold in a few years time, leaving us with huge empty eyesores, and a whole lot of concrete covering up that beautiful soil.


Chains siphon money from our communities in the form of tax cuts, falsely low wages, and reduced local jobs, not to mention robbing your town of its soul (who wants to live there or visit when it looks just like everywhere else?).  Chains keep prices falsely low by strong-arming farmers and suppliers – if you want to sell to them, you have to sell at the price they name (we have personally experienced this).  They are also part of the system of planned obsolensence – selling items that are so poorly made they will quickly break, are made so that they can’t be repaired, and you have to buy another one.  And another.

I highly recommend watching The High Cost of Low Prices or Fast Food Nation, for an understanding of how corporations like Wal-Mart and fast food companies truly cannabalize our friends, neighbors, and culture in order to make more money.


Think your local store is more expensive?  That’s because they’re not getting tax incentives from the town, government incentives for hiring, etc etc .  . . They are paying fair wages, creating interest and life and teaching skills to your neighbors and friends.  They will work their hardest to meet your needs, because to them you’re a customer and a friend, not a number.  If times get tough, Wal-Mart will not help you keep your family fed or clothed, but your local grocer, baker, or clothes store might.  (But not if they no longer exist!)

swinging(Some late fall swinging fun at our local coop.)  Amanda Blake Soule of Soulemama shared some great thoughts recently on shopping at big box stores in this interview.  Have any favorite tips to share, on how to avoid corporations and big box stores?  Feel free to share!

10 Responses to “Step Six – Big Box Boycott”

  1. 1

    Thank you for posting this.

    I avoid Route 9 in Hadley as much as possible, taking back roads instead, because I feel so upset every time I pass through.

    Probably the biggest tip I might have for people trying to avoid big box stores and over-consumption in general is a policy of as much avoidance as possible. For me, that involves alternate routes through town, installing AdBlock on my Firefox browser (I love being shielded from ads so very much), not watching TV, etc. Ultimately the goal would be to break the spell and lure of cheap stuff and the illusion that any of it is needed. So also redirecting one’s focus to things like being outside, relationships with family and friends, making locavorism and the local sourcing of needed non-food items into a fun adventure, developing spiritual practices, petting the cat… there are so many other things to do.

  2. 2

    I love that coop! We live in Boston, but my in-laws live three houses away from that coop. I can’t wait to bring our daughter to those swings next time we are in town! Great post. A lot to think about. We currently go to Whole Foods only for the bulk grains. It’s convenient and cheap, but your post is making me rethink that a bit. We already go there so infrequently, going there even less won’t hurt too bad. I also find that when we are there, we buy more convenient pre-made snack foods, but when we shop at the local coops we buy more whole foods (because the snacks are more expensive). That is better for us in the long run, anyway. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. 3

    Jen, I completely agree – trying to remove the temptation from our view is one of the best tools we have. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 4

    Great points you make! Indeed, I so often find myself buying more than I intended at the store. Best to you,

  5. 5

    These steps have been awesome to read. I’ll be honest, they seem too unachievable at this very moment, but the moments the unreachable arrives at my fingertips, always seems to come faster than I anticipate, and I’ve loved logging this info away for that time. Thank-you!

  6. 6

    I totally understand – five years ago, I probably hadn’t even thought about most of these steps. Seeking knowledge is always first, and I think what you say is true, sometimes the unreachable can reach us quickly. best of luck on your journey –

  7. 7

    Thanks Adrie, this was a great affirmation of so much we’re trying to do. I feel so sad for your Hadley Garden Center. And all of the land getting covered up with these disgusting stores. Sorry if that seems strong, but they are obscene! I also like what you day about how not shopping big box includes brands like Kraft. I recently became more educated about the health food brands with corporate owners, and while I can’t say there is a blanket good/evil verdict on them, I felt empowered to have more information about where my money was going.

  8. 8

    Oh believe me, I have uttered many strong words against big box stores in my time, so offense taken! Obscene is a good description. You are so right about knowledge and empowerment -they always go together. Best to you in your journey.

  9. 9

    I dislike shopping in general, so I guess that helps me avoid those stores. I am too lazy to deal with them. The same is not true, alas, with shopping online at places like Amazon, so I make a point of supporting the local bookstore (and library!) as well.

  10. 10

    Sarah, A healthy dislike of these stores is a wonderful thing to have (or learn!). Amazon is such a hard temptation to avoid – we’re certainly not perfect.

Want to Leave a Reply?