The market has united us all as consumers, but divided us as citizens. I don't mean divided us into two parties or anything like that. I mean divided each one of us into two parts: the "I-want" consumer and the "We-should" citizen.
Here's an example I'm dealing with right now. If I eat locally and organically, maybe a hamburger and french fries dinner will cost about $7 for me -- that's if I cook at home, not if I eat out. If I eat the same amount of food, with the same amount of protein and "fuel," at a fast food restaurant, I can spend as little as $2. Obviously there are health issues at play, but all things equal (amount of grease and salt used, etc.), the mass-market option costs me less. That's money I can use, since we're none of us rolling in the dough. Five dollars saved for dinner is not negligible.
Then there's WalMart. The writer I'm reading, Benjamin Barber, calls the new economy "the WalMart economy." The WalMart economy divides each of us between our desire and sometimes our need for cheap products -- not because we're supporting Asian sweatshop labor but because we do not have $200 for a local, renewable-resource, craft-made set of dishes. What we have is $30 for the on-sale stuff made in China, and sold at WalMart. But given the choice, would you buy the same toilet paper for $1 a four-pack on sale at WalMart, or $3.50 at your independent drugstore? Well?
That's the problem. For me, and most of my friends and family, the issue is not "I want it cheap and I like to go to WalMart!" (as Barber claims is our infantile "gimme" desire). The issue goes beyond that into what can we actually afford in this economy that looks to go sideways at any time, and leave our generation with no Social Security and no retirement funds. But we also know that the WalMart and fast food model is not something we can afford, either, as a society.
So I've figured out the way to get out of it. Of course, it's theoretical ... and on something like TP, you can't really do this ... but the only way I see to get out of this is to get off the ride of where to get this stuff entirely. Just jump off. If I think I need something and can get it for cheap at a big box, or I can get it for too much money locally made, maybe I don't really need it. I can improvise something else, I can get it for free on freecycle, I can buy it secondhand in any number of places, I can borrow it from a friend, I can fix what I have that the new product would replace, or I can just do without it.
Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
That's why I want to grow and raise my own fruit and vegetables. This gets me off the organic/local is expensive / Safeway is cheap seesaw. Right now I just try to compromise and buy local, organic, and cheap stuff.
And then when it comes to the TP, the only option is to support my independent drugstore. I can save that $2.50 by failing to go into WalMart at all and picking up those other things that seem to attach to big box shoppers like leeches.