Sunday, June 04, 2006


I tend to fetishize things like office supplies, closet organizers, interestingly-shaped cleaning products - you know, those things that promise us better, tidier, fresher-smelling lives. Bonus if they make our environmental footprints smaller at the same time.

I love having an excuse to go to OfficeMax, and I will wander the aisles in search of the perfect pen or pencil, the one that will revolutionize my writing experience, or of the perfect calendar (the right size, shape, and subject), or of some desk organizing caddy that I have never seen before.

The pencil I've been using professionally (i.e., for grading papers) and for just about everything else for the last several years is the Papermate PhD, which is an incredible mechanical pencil experience. What I like about it is the way it feels in my hand - it's hefty enough that I can hold it comfortably without getting finger or hand cramps, even after hours of writing. But most importantly, unlike almost every other mechanical pencil I've tried, the PhD lead doesn't snap on me very often.

Plus, it's very stylish, as you can see.

But, although Office Max was my first love, lately, Target has become even more of a time and money sucking experience for me. Not that there aren't all kinds of reasons not to go to Target - for one thing, Target allows its pharmacists to decide for themselves whether or not to fill EC prescriptions.

Beginning of long tangent:
Though I sound like a broken record, it bears repeating: EC is emergency CONTRACEPTION. Not abortion. If there is an established pregnancy - which means that a fertilized egg has implanted itself in the wall of the uterus (which how the medical field defines "pregnancy," which is a medical condition, so it's not a definition that's up for grabs), EC will have absolutely no effect. So refusing to fill a prescription for EC is exactly the same as refusing to fill a prescription for birth control (which many pharmacists do, these days).

Here's what Target has to say about the matter (excerpted from AMERICAblog ):

From: Target.Response
Date: Nov 14, 2005 11:14 AM
Subject: Filling Prescriptions

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies. Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.


We're committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

I LOVE the - what is it - irony? Doublespeak? - of that last line, I have to say.

I just need to quote a little more for you from this blog, because Target's insanity may not be completely clear from the above email. In response to the above email, AMERICAblogger has this to say:

So let's ask Target if they also support the following Target employees:
- Check out clerks who verify how fat you are before selling you that package of potato chips?
- Pharmacists who don't want to fill prescriptions for Jewish customers who killed Christ.
- Pharmacists who don't want to help customers who worship a "Satanic counterfeit" (read: "The Pope," in fundie-speak).
- Pharmacists who only dispense HIV medicine to "innocent victims" of AIDS.
- Pharmacists who want proof that women seeking emergency contraception were really raped, and that they didn't "deserve it."
- Pharmacists (or cashiers) who are Christian Scientists - can they refuse to sell any medicine, even aspirin, to anyone?
- Pharmacists who won't sell birth control pills to unmarried women, condoms to unmarried men, or any birth control at all because God doesn't want people spilling their seed.
- Can fundamentalist Christian employees refuse to interact with gay people in any way, shape or form since gays are sinners, abominations, biological errors, and very likely pedophiles?

I'm still sort of surprised that Target doesn't get it. I'm still trying to get my head around how they can make the exception for EC and still make pharmacists fill birth control pills. It's all about what people think about how EC works, and not about how it actually works.


So there are certainly reasons not to shop at Target.

But I do. And I've given up Wal-Mart and K-Mart is closed, so I. Don't. Want. To. Hear. It.

So - long tangent over - while I don't usually have very good luck with women's Target clothes (crappy quality - nothing I buy there lasts through the washing machine), I have wonderful luck with Target everything else - storage containers, furniture, picture frames, kids' clothes, and supplies.

I am obsessed with Method.

I have bought green cleaning products almost exclusively for the last decade or more - despite my reference to "Ajax" in that earlier post, which was mostly for effect (I used to clean with a green cleanser, and now I clean with baking soda, which is not really a problem on dishes, but still, it's the general principle, because in my mind, dish gunk and sink gunk are two different things, even if the dishes sit in the sink.). So when I first saw Method products on the shelf at Target a couple of years ago, I ignored them. I mean, sure, they were cheap, but so are commercial cleaning products in general, compared to Seventh Generation or Ecover or whatever green products I find at the co-op.

And I was so sure that Method was just another cleaning product that, last week, when I picked up some supplies, I was outraged that the ingredients were not listed on the bottles, and I came home ready to report them to the FDA.

It turns out that non-toxic products are not required to list their contents. Score one for Method (minus one for the FDA: if your kid drinks bio-safe cleaning products, doesn't Poison Control still want to know what's in them?!).

Method also uses biodegradable ingredients. And they don't test on animals (score about 100 for Method).

Plus, their products are so CUTE!!

They are almost - almost - as cute as the Koziol products (such as Curly, below):

And there you have it. And we're back to office supplies. Sigh. Moan.


marc said...

Thanks for this. We use Method near exclusively now too, although our kitchen floor does not need to smell like grapefuit. Why is Target such an addicting store?

Plain(s)feminist said...

...but a grapefruit-smelling kitchen floor is way sexy. Or, at least, way sexier than just a sticky kitchen floor.

I think Target is addictive because it's the only one of the big box stores to have taken style seriously. I used to go to Target solely for funky picture frames - they were the only game in town for that. Now they've got Isac Mizrahi - not freakin' ex-models and actors, but Isac effing Mizrahi, a real designer - with a Target clothing line. They've got another designer doing small kitchen appliances and utensils. They've got funky everything.

K-Mart may have Martha Stewart - and I've bought some stuff there - but I'd rather have neon green, purple, and turquoise towels than olive and beige ones. And Wal-Mart is just unpleasant all around.

Anonymous said...

I am annoyed about the Isaac Mizrahi clothng line. Dude makes clothes for dogs but not "plus sized" women? He gets a big WHATEVER from me.

I don't go to Target that often, only because I hate driving near the mall. If there was a Target on the east side of town, I'd probably be there every day.

Oh, and there is, in fact, one K-mart left in Sioux Falls, on east 10th St.

Kelsey said...

I think when it comes to ethical shopping, we all just have to do our best. No question, Wal-Mart is the worst of the worst, so if we can give up Wal-Mart, I think we can allow ourselves some Target now and then. Luckily, now that I don't get up to SF as much, I don't buy nearly as much crap, period.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Anna's right - Mizrahi's clothes are too small. I don't buy them - and actually, he came across as a real asshat in that Altman documentary (Ready to Wear?) a while back, so I even more don't want to buy his clothes. But at least he has (or had) real, cutting edge designer cachet.

If Target is smart, it will snap up one of the Project Runway people to design its next clothing line. And considering that there seems to be a clear connection between size and money - with the larger of us having less of the money - you'd think Target would be anxious to corner the market of hip, trendy, fat girls.

Carrie said...

Target has the advantage of being one of the few box stores that don't give me a headache within the first 10 minutes. I don't know if it's the lights or the music or what, but even Home Depot makes me want to race home to hide under my bed. Are the ceilings too high? Is it acoustics? And yes, it's refreshing to pick up an object in Target and get a sense that some other human being gave some serious thought to making it attractive and functional. Not a bad business model.

Not interested in the clothes, though. Sorry, Isaac.