It’s really surprising how much stuff we need to buy. It’s amazing how much food the part-time occupants of a six-bedroomed house can eat in a week. No sooner have we done the shopping, than its time to go do some more.
In the first few days we went off to the trademarket, feeling very special because we were deemed qualified to buy all this stuff at the same price as a shop-keeper. It was like we’d been admitted to some secret society, and went around looking for knowing glances from the other souls struggling with juggernaut-sized trolleys up and down the aisles.
But the novelty wore off after our first trip, when we realised that this place has one predominant motivating feature – price. It’s a fairly faceless, characterless concrete warehouse whose primary motivation is to sell shed-loads of mass-produced stuff pretty cheaply. It’s obvious, I know, but when the realisation dawned, somehow it left us feeling deeply unsatisfied.
We feel that there should be a way to make things somehow “better” through our business activities (actually, through all our activities). So we want to support other people who are trying to make the world a better place too, by supporting their businesses, if we can. And especially if they’re trying to make a living here, miles from what most of the world regards as civilisation.
The most important thing about a sausage isn’t its price, so we’d rather buy from our local butcher who makes world-beating, award-winning sausages in his back room. Battery chicken eggs just aren’t as yellow as those from the farm down the road. Loo rolls made from recycled paper, supplied by a worker’s co-op, give you a chance to change the world while... well, you know. And if you Google ‘parabens’ you’ll never buy another bottle of supermarket (or trademarket) shampoo, but will be reaching for the natural, organic stuff.
None of these items are the cheapest option. Sometimes it seems plain daft to spend more than we need to. And now we need to shop in a hundred places instead of getting it all at the trademarket. Perhaps it’s naïve, but we think that this stuff actually matters, so we’re doing all we can to buy local, buy wholesome, buy clean, and buy best-value. Which is rarely the cheapest, or so we’re finding.
Still, we’re saving the diesel on the non-trip to the trademarket. And every little helps.