To the Overcoming Consumerism Index
Who we are and HOW THIS SITE GOT STARTED
The original material for this page was started as a synthesis of reading notes and material shared among friends as photocopies. It grew to include tips found in the Hands-on section and took off from there. We're self taught in HTML and know that the site is chaotic, sometimes disorganized and lacks overall structure: If you have concrete suggestions on that or if you have ideas, suggestions or information that you would like included in ongoing changes, please send them to
This is a illustrational listing of the ways that we spend our money in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is not a testimonial to the supreme quality of the things mentioned; rather it is just an example of our own choices so far. The selection of merchandise/ers is an evolving thing that means keeping informed and changing your mind while you push stores to carry the right things and switch allegiances with the overall goal of creating a large organic/sustainable marketplace of organic foods and a return to a reasonable variety of quality American made goods instead of Chinese junk.
For example, we patronized and publicized the local Whole Foods when they first opened. What a wonderful alternative they were to Safeway and Albertsons and Cala Markets with their factory food and gimmicky coupons and club cards.. But Whole Foods, having obtained a large market share is getting very big and corporate, is dumping the small manufacturers of organic food that allowed them to attract new customers and is replacing them with their own (often not organic) house brands as well as selling a higher proportion of expensive vanity foods such as airfreighting in avocados from Chile at $2.00 each. So we've decided to support another store, even if it's further away, Good Earth in Fairfax, California. They have cheaper prices, avocados grown in Calfornia for $3:00 a pound, better selection and happier employees than Whole Foods.
When we just want to pick up a carton of organic milk or bread, we'll go to a large commerical chain store like Albertson's or Bell Market for just that one thing with the goal of encouraging them to carry more organic products-which we ask for whenever we see a manager. Safeway now has a pathetic selection of organic vegetables and some of it's own house brand organic milk which isn't very good. We do use Safeway's bathroom if we need one and we dump our plastic bags in their recycling bin. It's fun to go into the produce section and ask in a loud voice "Is this all the organic produce you have!?"
Check out your own area for small merchants that have good services and high quality products. Can't find any?, perhaps you ought to start your own store or cooperative distributorship for more sustainable goods than are found where you live.
We've produced a "Local Small Business List" of our favorite stores with locations, phone numbers, hours and products.
We print them on a word processor, carry them with us and hand them out to people that have just moved to the area, ask for directions or whom we speak with during the day. Create one for your own area, help keep your local economy healthy, non-corporate and unique by publicizing local merchants that may not be able to afford advertising.
See the "Alternate Economy" page: Link
What we buy:
Gasoline, There are 10 brands to choose from in the San Francisco Bay Area. All are sold by billion Dollar corporations that at one time or another have done outrageous things to the environment above and beyond the usual petrochemical abuses, there's no way to avoid it.
However, we will never spend one cent in a Unocal 76 station because of this company's deliberate policy, boasted about in its annual report, of using dirty crude so as to maximize profits and thus create more Selenium pollution from its refineries of San Francisco Bay. Also, Chevron is under a long term boycott for their phony greenwashing media-ads belied by their active support of the corporate "wise use" movement. Why don't they get their Environmental efforts out of the Public Relations Department and into Production and Operations? Do corporate people really think that we are that gullible? People do.
Please note CARS is where the rest of the automotive stuff is now.
FOOD; We buy exclusively organic products at Good Earth and sometimes Whole Foods, and now grocery companies like Molly Stone's and even Bell Markets that are carrying more organic food. It is probably more important to buy these products in the "mainstream" stores so as to encourage an expansion of these organic product lines as mentioned above.
We belong to a "subscription farming " service. A little more expensive but you get more nutrition from the food and your long term health is priceless.
"A lifetime of savings from buying cheap low quality nonorganic food can be used up very quickly to pay the medical costs associated with lymphoma or breast cancer or some other pollution caused disease."
We grow/share/swap a lot of our own food in our various yards but it is not reasonable to expect to grow everything. Some things are better left to farmers but why buy apples or oranges or plums when with a few trees you can deluge your friends and neighbors with fruit.
*Frozen food: Vegetables: Sno-Pac Organic in Minnesota. 1-800-533-2215. Amy's organic pizzas from Petaluma.
*Milk; Strauss Dairy in Marshall, California. Comes in returnable glass bottles with cream on the top. A bit pricey so now we've switched to Clover Dairy's organic line which is produced on their ever-expanding organic acreage.
*Pasta: Whole foods organic brand from Italy. STILL waiting for a US producer.
*Bread: Good Earth's own oven baked, Vital Vittles, Santa Rosa Baking company, Grace Baking, Judy's breadsticks. 100% organic.
*Cereal: Organic granola from Sunridge Farms in Santa Cruz.
*Cocoa: No corporate cocoa for us. We dumped Carnation, (Nestle), for organic Ah!Laska brand, a little company in Anchorage. They also make a nice chocolate syrup.
*Jams: Cascadia Farms organic from Washington State. Welch's owns part of this company but there are no reasonably priced alternatives: late news, this company has been purchased by Small World Food company. Sound familiar? It's owned by The Walt Disney Corporation! Switched to Whole Foods Whole Kids organic jam.
Seeds of Change, once a progressive organic heirloom seed seller and then food marketer is now owned by the Mars Family. Billionaires-totally corporate so we've dumped Seeds of Chage products. Tell your friends.
*Coffee, organic from small landholdings in Mexico and Peru. Peet's coffee has a good blend.
*Paper products, Seventh Generation and Envision. 100% Post-Consumer content. Lately we've just been buying the cheapest stuff at Costco. We'll use the savings at one end to buy better food for the other.
*Bar Soap, we use Cal Ben brand, for bath, hands and shaving, made by a small company in Oakland. It's less expensive through the Real Goods catalogue than it is direct from the factory. Kiss My Face brand sold at Whole Foods and Good Earth.
*Dishwashing Liquid, Planet, from Southern California. or whatever is on sale with the fewest ingredients and that works.
*Laundry Powder Bi-O-Kleen. Simple ingredients, clothes smell like citrus-look great. Arm and Hammer is less environmentally responsible but works better according to Consumer Reports.
Finding environmentally benign, effective and reasonably priced soaps or cleaners is a challenge. Let us know if you've found one.
*Shampoo/conditioner, we bring our own bottle to the store and get it in bulk from a Los Angeles company, Nature's Garden.
Clothing: Garage sales, quirky secondhand stores. When buying new US-made merchandise we use the Real Goods Catalogue, Ukiah, California,(800-762-7325), for great books, energy-saving equipment, household products, also Land's End in Wisconsin because of their warranty.
Craig's List: You would have to be insane to buy new furniture, cars, electronics etc without first looking at CL. It is the finest way to find or sell or give away used things or connect with service providers FOR FREE if you happen to live in certain metropolitan areas. There is no advertising except for paid job postings.
Unfortunatetely you can find every kind of perversion there is advertised on CL in the personals section.. At least there in separate catagories. Still not something that we'd let our kids look around in.
What Craigs List is about. Mission and Hiistory.
Opening page for the San Francisco Bay Area. The largest and most geographically parsed CL. Lots of catagories.
Other cities and urban areas are listed on the top right and far right. They may only have for sale or wanted catagories for merchandise, check 'em out.
Long Distance Telephone; We use Earth Tones long distance service, 800-327-8456. This company is owned by 6 environmental groups that get 100% of the profits. We got tired of giving money to AT&T, its lobbyists and a $770 Million advertising budget. Besides, who wants to support a company that has announced the layoff of 40,000 workers, most of whom are older and have few if any opportunities for career change?
For local telephone service we will dump Pacific Bell, oops now SBC after the lateste corporate takeover, as soon as there is an alternate carrier. PacBell prints its phone books on virgin pulp from British Columbia, the results of which are clear cutting, muddy streams where fish suffocate and an ongoing torrent of greenwashing P.R. from Pacific Telesis the parent corporation defending their actions and discounting all environmental concerns. Meanwhile their customer service gets worse and worse and worse. Why do they spend money on promoting services that you wait days for?
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