China’s Prosperity- at what cost?

I see people happy when Walmart and other retailers announce SALE on their stock. These retailers conveniently dump out of season good onto customers. It is quite true that some of the products on the shelves aren’t worth the entire retail price. However, does it make sense or justify a buying, just because some product is on sale?

Marketing teams do a wonderful job by making most of the consumer goods look indispensable. Over 70% of the consumer base is led by this “Buy things off season, and during a Sale “ mentality.  This group of customers think only about their money saving deals for now and care less about the impact of their incessant buying habits on the supply demand economics. Given this fact, it is impossible to expect them to think in terms of the torture our planet goes through to help them meet their NEEDS.

One look at the overstocked aisles in any store reminds one of the excessive consumerism patterns, such huge conglomerates promote. When companies like WalMart, Kroger, Publix and Whole foods talk about sustainability, it sounds like a joke and a mockery of the earth friendly effort ever proposed/ put in by a human on the face of the planet.

source: americajr.com

World’s major economies survives on the health of their retail sector, no denying that. But doesn’t that mean that they need to work towards being the most responsible as well. Every retail giant claims to be doing their bit for the planet. REALLY? One look at  these stores’ slogans show how tangential their business policies are to their Green claims.

Let us take a look at their Punch/tag lines: Walmart – Save money . Live better; Publix- Where shopping is pleasure, Target – Expect more , Pay less, etc….Retailer talks about Saving green  and never encourage customers to go green with their shopping choices.

Why would they, wouldn’t that affect their bottom lines and their sales figures? Hanging a reusable bag at the billing counter isn’t helping folks!!

Other than encouraging excessive consumerism, these retailer are doing nothing for the community. A classic example would be Kroger’s 10 for $10 sale. Their ads make Stocking your pantry for less seem like saving millions. As part of its green efforts, Kroger conducts a design a reusable bag contest every year. But never bothers to encourage its customers to bring in their own bags.  My question – why not suggest people to get their bags rather than make it look like they want the customers to BUY a bag at the counter. This strategy makes the plastic /paper bag seem like a MONEY saving option for any average consumer.And the entire Green drama put up by the conglomerate moves backstage.

Time and again, I have been putting up with arguments from people about why they should buy a reusable bag when a plastic bag is free? Right, can’t they see that they could take their own bag to the store. No one forces them to buy a reusable bag. Where do these people leave their common sense? Is it justified when educated people argue that they cant make simple choices for the better?

One need not be an economist to put one  plus one. It is known that every product sold across the Atlantic and this side of the Pacific comes from the Land of the Forbidden City. Every product ever manufactured may be contributing to this said country’s apparent growth and prosperity. But all this at what cost? Is it ok to ignore impact of our mindless living? These impacts are no longer a distant occurrence. We can see the aftermath of excessive exploitation of our natural resources and can no longer ignore the way our life (read health) is being changed for the worse. What would take the majority of the population to wake up?…I am yet to figure that out.

Apart from doing their bit in destroying the planet and adding to the resource crunch. These retail giants kill local, small time grocery stores who could have been greener with their functioning. Not only do these small time stores go out of business, but these giant’s monopoly impacts local economic as well. All said and done, do we really need a WALMART in India? No, definitely not!!!

How could I miss sharing this cartoon??

 source: courtneyelizabeth.com

My next article is about the KING? of the retail sector who thinks that projecting a We sell cheap imagine translates to more business and money in his pocket. To hell with the environment and the drastic impact his money making conglomerate would have on the planet!!!

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9 thoughts on “China’s Prosperity- at what cost?

  1. Hi Sudha… A much needed post.
    I would also like to bring out how these stores impact manufacturers. Not every product sold by walmart or target comes from big industries. Most fo the food products, toys, clothes etc are manufactured by small cottage industries and micro enterprises.
    most of these big “cost” saving stores have tie-ups with manufacturers. Selling to big customers like wal-mart would ensure the product gets to a wider clientele and a year-round demand. In turn, the big stores get to buy products at a lower rate.
    The problem arises when they insist that the manufacturer sell to none except them. This will weed out competition for the big store… but the poor manufacturer, after a period of time will be dependent on only the big store and will have to agree to lower rates, which means lesser profits. By then, he will not ahve any small stores or other competitiors to sell to… leaving him with no option but to either sell at ridiculously lower price or close down business. This is especially true of cottage industriees like pickle/sauce manufacturers, etc.
    What kidn of justice is it when the manufacturer's (who designs, produces the product) profit is a fraction of the sellers?

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  2. thank you for the comment. I was all set to post my article on Indian Retail industry and the changing scene, all for the worst ….:(.

    Climatic shift in China, thanks to the industrial pollution and the so called revenue generating manufacturing facilities has to be dealt with. It is a vicious cycle where in manufacturers claim to cater to existing demand, retailers dont think beyonf increasing their bottom lines and customers dont bother to think beyond what is visible. (I doubt it if a person who is looking at products, all neatly arranged in the supermarket aisle, ever cares about its value chain and its imapact on their future)

    Lots needs to be done…we could start with reverting to minimal living and altering consumer behaviour.

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  3. Thank u sunayana…i get into low swings…cos this blog isnt helping me do what i am supposed to be doing….I hate to say this but the amount of response a decor blog or a food blog garners…such issue/crisis based blogs dont…not just the green ones…even the social issues blogs have no takers…real sad state fo affairs

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  4. Yes didi, I totally agree with you. Decor blogs and food blogs get more attention. But its about some sensitivity and responsibility that can change our outlooks. Its not impossible and its not difficult either. We just dont want to look beyond our confort zone. We can take all troubles to go and get movie tickets but we cant take 5% of the trouble to pay attention to social issues or green issues. But I will still say that people are changing, but yes the pace is slow. It can help a lot more if the pace increases and for now lets stay positive and do all we can. I have started connecting to people on a daily basis by sending some forward or the other on issues we face. I plan to increase my network and keep mailing people until paying attention to these huge issues becomes our second nature. Wish me luck to keep my perseverence on !! Sunayana

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  5. 😀 yep you bet on that… its your website thats my weapon to bug myself and people to look at all the mess that we have created over ages. Your website is the best way to tell people , ” Helllo Buddy, its we who created this mess, wont you help me clear this or you want me to clear your mess too while you enjoy and cause more mess ” WOW did I just say that 😀
    Sunayana

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  6. Hello Sudha,
    May be I can help u with a post on Changing trends in Indian retail industry. The pattern of excessive consumerism is fast becoming a fad in India as well. People stock up everything here – hoard every commodity more than their necessities quoting it is for future use. Be it food grains, groceries, textiles, gold and precious metals … people are going bananas about buying things compulsively when there is a sale. They do not understand that this way they are emptying their pockets needlessly and putting extra stress in the supply chain and on our dear planet. WELL said in your article, there is absolutely no common sense/awareness.More educated one is – more is the lack of common sense. With regards to the shopping bag carrying practice – you may read a post in my blog – http://furorescribendi.blogspot.com/2010/05/do-your-bit-for-your-environment.html

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