I just finished managing a Fair Trade store. I am on an exceptionally small budget. Probably smaller than most here.
I could go on and on about why Wal-Mart is an abomination, and damning those who shop there but it comes down to this:
My WANT of cheap CRAP does not outweigh the life needs of those who produce those goods. The biggest EXCUSE I see for people who shop at Wal-Mart is the glorious category of "household goods". Screw that, things like toilet paper, laundry soap and scrub brushes are not a life need. They just aren't. Those things can be improvised in one fashion or another and I would rather do that than compromise my morals and shop with the devil.
I avoid Walmart like the plague, but sometimes we need to go there. When money's tight, we need groceries. I can spend an enormous amount of money in gas to drive to the farmer's market and the literal 30-40 min drive from my house *in the city* to the nearest non-Walmart for some necessities. Really, it is up to me what I consider necessities, no one else. We saved up money to go to the Farmer's Market today ALL the way across town, got there and there was basically nothing. Some cucumbers and house plants, but that won't feed us. So I spent about $15 on gas to come home empty handed.
I have been trying EVERYTHING to avoid Walmart and other slavery-run companies to get my kids school uniforms that are *required*, but noone has been able to help me there yet, it is just a matter of the much more expensive and slightly less bad Land's End supergiant.
I am lucky to be able to make that choice right now. We will pay for it in our food bill, but I try to do what I can. The fact is that just about anywhere you shop nowadays and anything you buy is shopping with the devil unless you are lucky or priviliged enough to have a garden, farm, or an extremely active mom & pop business center in your center with homemade items.
The subject of choice and going without is a bit amusing to me really. I've seen in several places on the forums conversations surrounding the amount of money people here spend on food a month. The figures are astounding to me. Absolutely astounding. I spend less than $150 a month on food for a family of five. The majority of people polled spent two to three times that in one week. Often for families smaller than mine.
So tell me... why is it that I have to go without and my purchases are being labeled a 'want' and not a 'need.' Yet peoples definitions of need in regards to food vary so much. If I can feed my family of five for $150 a month, why can't everyone else?
Do you see how that unfairly puts my priorities and morals on a higher ground than yours? Often, thats how it sounds when others talk about "choice" and shopping.
All people have different circumstances. Blanket statements that include everyone just are not realistic.
Just because someone in one area can spend $150 on food for a family of 5, doesn't mean everyone can.