Alerting to negative social effects of hypermarkets Decreasing predominance of supermarkets Resisting construction of hypermarkets
AEDENAT is a Spanish environmental NGO, based in Madrid, with 70 regional members groups. It has carried out a number of grass-roots campaigns on consumption and environment issues in urban areas. In 1998 it is focusing activities on campaigning against supermarkets. Spain has been invaded by French supermarket chains, which have found little resistance to their expansion. Concerns are the resulting increases in the distances over which food is transported, packaging and energy use for refrigerated transport and storage, as well as ozone depletion due to CFC refrigerants still being used. Most dramatic is the social change caused by small family shops going broke. The supermarkets have created some jobs, but not as many as they have destroyed. Moreover, the new jobs created are not of the same quality. There is a huge difference between a shop owner - and your own boss - and working mechanically as an employee behind a cash desk. Finally, the supermarket invasion has changed the structure of cities, with more highways being built to out-of-town malls, more parking space and less attractive residential areas. Although there is still very little awareness about these problems in Spain, local actions recently blocked three proposals for new hypermarkets. AEDENAT is looking to build alliances with other sectors of society with whom to jointly undertake the campaign. It has already contacted the association of small shopkeepers, who are also opposed to further expansion of hypermarkets.
Supermarkets only give the illusion of more choice. They may sell more kinds of fruit, for example, but no more variety -- just one type of banana, one kind of pineapple. Because it is presented in such volume you think you have a large selection. But there is usually more to choose from at a specialist fruit vendor.
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