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  • by Lindy Schneider
Today I paid my first visit to the hallowed halls of excess consumerism. A strange warehouse style monolith filled by pallets of people all on the ‘give me, give me, give me ‘ hunt for a bargain, a special bonus or at the very least an extra kilogram of something they don’t need at no extra cost.

Yes you guessed it, destination Costco, on a Sunday afternoon, the latest retail offering on our shores from our dear, most influential friend, the USA.

The visit was borne more out of curiosity than the need to purchase, although stories of a dozen bagels for $10 had filtered into my psyche over time, a very potent example of how suggestible we can be to the foibles of marketing, even when we think we are immune.

Costco opened late last year at Harbourtown, yet another ode to excess because I am sure that even with our ever growing population we couldn’t possibly need another DFO retail outlet in Melbourne.  Lets face it, when you go to see the new Melbourne suburb of Docklands, it is less about picturesque harbour views from architecturally sculptured buildings (in fact there’s none of that!) and more about grey warehouses with jauntily placed entrances to power sucking, brightly lit spaces that feel like public toilets.

I am not anti consumers. I am one every time I buy a carton of milk or a new pair of shoes. Some of the nicest people I know are consumers!  But I am anti consumerism, that relentless need for more, better, best at the expense of our personal sanity, our credit card balances and most importantly, our planet.

Did you know that the word Costco is recognized by your spellchecker? Try that with the word fairtrade? Yep you guessed it little red underlining squiggle.

The first thing you will notice about Costco is their exceptionally large trolleys designed to carry more of the exceptionally large crap that you will inevitably have to buy there because A. the trolley demands you fill it and B. you’ve just paid a $70 membership in order to save this vast amount of money you are spending.

Once you are in the lift there is no going back, much like an Ikea store you must follow the throngs of people going in one direction only, towards the ten kilo tubs of chocolate mousse.

Five minutes into this whole bulk buy experiment I am actually feeling quite nauseous.  Its honestly just all too much for my slow food sensibilities and I am overcome with visions of couch sloths spooning American style puddings into their cavernous pie holes straight from five kilo buckets (and no low fat versions of anything to be found!).

Sure there are olives, and we typically eats lots of those although a jar bigger than my head is probably overdoing it. There are lots of basic stapes like rice, flour and pasta that may well be worth the bulk buy, but you can get these things at your local and do your own economy a favour, rather than Uncles Sam’s.

My man has his own unique take on it all. Whilst I looked at products, he looked at people and came to the conclusion that if ever a weight loss program were looking for participants, Costco would be a great place to scout contestants.  And he is right.

Pushing those impossibly large trolleys, laden with soft drink, fat pizzas and caterers size everything are large people. Who would have guessed it? –  a large proportion of customers are large proportioned people buying large proportioned items.

And there is one other very important fact that cannot be overlooked. Everyone was buying massive packs of toilet paper, which just goes to prove – garbage in, garbage out.

It’s back to the country IGA with only 2 aisles for me but with Costco in our world, too many may just have too much tonight and tomorrow,  you will most surely read again about Australia’s obesity epidemic.

You do the math…….

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