Why I Ditched Costco

Posted By digging roots on Sep 19, 2018 in Less Waste | 7 comments

I remember when I got my Costco membership. It was a cold and rainy winter day when they snapped that notoriously grainy picture and printed it on a card for me. The kids and I needed something to do that day and I couldn’t wait to walk all over their wonderland and be wooed by their bright lights and flashy packaging. 

So, month after month, I filled my cart with food fortressed in plastic. It was even healthy food. Spinach, avocados, frozen fruit, bananas, peanut butter, and whole chickens.


Opening my eyes to ethical buying

My friend Laura told me one evening over wine, “The clothing industry is killing people on the other side of the world. The dyes on our fabrics are polluting their waters and the sprays for the cotton crops are ruining their health.”

I watched the documentary.

My friend had just opened my eyes to the world of ethical buying. It blew my mind that you would care about where your stuff was coming from. She made me wonder what else was broken in our commercial world. I was on a mission.

I bought some fair trade clothes* and started going to the thrift store more.

Then I had my vegan phase. I realized how most commercially raised meat animals are treated: Cages, feedlots, crappy grain food, and antibiotics. Not only did I not want to be consuming them for my health, but also for the principle of the thing. We are here to take care of the earth, not abuse the earth and and animals created alongside us. I considered becoming a vegan, but settled on deciding to consume mostly grass fed, locally raised, humanely killed meat. 

Then I realized plastic doesn’t decompose for 1,000 years. And that sea turtles get straws stuck up their noses*. The last thing that tipped me over the edge was that my county stopped accepting most plastic recycling. It was time to use less plastic. 


Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash


Taking action

It was about this point in my journey I was doing my monthly shopping at Costco and realized just how much freaking plastic packaging they use. It is so excessive. I had already stopped buying meat there because all I could think of when I looked at the beef section was cows cramped in a feed lot shitting on each other. 

I decided it was time to talk to Costco and make them stop using so much plastic, gosh darn it. The customer service employee looked like he had practiced a compassionate, understanding look for people like me. But he didn’t seem to care about my mission, nor could he really do anything because after all, he was just an employee, not Cotsco itself.

As he suggested, I called “Corporate”. The guyot the phone cared even less. “I’ll pass this message on,” he told me. 

“How can I know this is going to actually get seen? Will I get a call back or anything?” I asked.

He sputtered around a bit before telling me I wouldn’t get a call back and all he could do was pass my message on.

“Is this something Costco is thinking about changing? Do they realize this is an issue that matters to many people?” I asked in a burst of courage.

Again he sputtered around saying he didn’t know and all he could do was pass my message on. 

But you know, I can’t feel mad at these employees, they really have no power over the larger machine. Costco won’t stop their excessive plastic packaging just because of my request.

In fact, Costco doesn’t need to change. They are who they are because they have sturdy 2-packs that you can lift with one hand. That’s the charm of Costco. 

So I cancelled my Costco membership.

The cashier on my last visit told me, “You’ll miss it!” … and she’s right. I will miss the samples, the clean store, and the huge bags of Pirates Booty.

But I am doing what I believe is right. The best way to make your voice heard is to vote with your dollar. I’m going to give my dollar to more deserving businesses this year, like the local health food store and a CSA. 

If we are going to bring rightness and justice to this world, the first place to start is with our shopping cart.



  1. Way to take costco to task! I’m so proud of you for calling them and not letting them off the hook! I doubt they will notice your one cancelled subscription but it just takes lots of single cancelled subscriptions to make a change. I’ll talk to josh about cancelling his/ours cause even plastic aside I can’t go in that store because I spend too much money by accident haha

    Post a Reply
  2. I totally agree on trying to reduce plastic waste (we actually burn most of our true garbage here in rural Wisconsin and have an awesome recycle center for everything else). My question is, how do you buy food that’s not in some sort of packaging? Besides raw produce, everything is packaged! Costco does overdue it…David bought a shaver there and box was 4 times bigger than it needed to be, ha.

    Post a Reply
    • It’s so true that its hard to get away from plastic packaging. It is pretty much impossible to get away from it entirely, but the more food you prepare at home, the better. You can buy from the bulk section with reusable bags too. I am always just trying to do better than I was last year!

      Post a Reply
  3. This is inspiring! I think we all need to wake up and think seriously about where we are putting our dollars, and start making changes in a positive direction.

    Post a Reply
  4. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and powerless to impact any real change, so it’s easy to give up. But I love your comment to just focus on doing better than the previous year. Do better than the previous week. Do better today than yesterday. Reasonable wisdom that applies to a wide spectrum of life goals!

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Karla! I feel overwhelmed and powerless too sometimes but I am going to just keep going!

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.