Our consumer dollars are powerful, we as a society have the potential to change the standards around us, just by choosing where we decide to spend our money. This might be the only advantage of a capitalist society, if people refuse to spend money on items then it forces those producing it to either fall or change. However, the problem is that most people don’t think they have this power or if they do they choose to continue negative practices for convenience or low prices. Here it becomes a question of morals, how much do you believe in a certain issue to eliminate your partaking in a certain practice or trend even at the inconvenience that it may bring to you.
This line is not easy to balance and every day we make decisions that compromise certain beliefs because of necessity, desire, or a combination of the two. You hate animal testing, but you love that type of shampoo. You know Dasani may not be good for the environment, but that’s the only kind they’re selling at the vending machine. You are disgusted by the ethical practices of Wal-Mart, but you’re on a tight budget and they have the cheapest items around. This conundrum is not easy and we are constantly trying to justify and rationalize our actions, though there are some of us who just do not care at all.
All of this has brought me to my main point—I do not shop at Wal-Mart and I do not eat at Chick-fil-A. It is not because I think that I am better than those who choose to visit these establishments, I have just found my personal line in the sand. I am actively choosing to make sure that my consumer dollars are not being spent at a business that I think has serious social flaws—Chick-fil-A for their homophobia and Wal-Mart for the mistreatment of their workers.
I get a lot of criticisms once I have made my opinions known, “You do know that you not going there doesn’t hurt them right?” And while that may be true, I know that every time I have this conversation there is the possibility that I may convince another person to take up this flag as well, they might begin to understand how where we decide to spend our money says enormous things about the people we choose to be. This small glimmer of hope for causing personal change is why I continue to refrain from visiting. In addition, on a more personal note, it allows me to feel that I am upholding my intrinsic beliefs even if there is no long-term gain I know that I have kept to my values.
I also get, “You know that there are so many issues within the world that you can’t be a conscious consumer about it all.” Again, I acknowledge this statement as true, there are so many problems that occur with in our capitalistic society it would be next to impossible to be socially conscious about all our consumer purchases. Yet, just because you can’t be on top of it all doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trying. These two just happen to be the ones that I am actively trying to uphold, it’s not that I don’t care about others, and it’s not that I don’t try to be socially conscious when I can, but I know I can’t do it all. At the very least I can continue to fight inequality in this vein and for me that makes giving up waffle fries and cheap products worth it.
We create the society that we want to be every time that we spend our money, all I’m saying is that there comes a point where we have to decide where our morals are more important than convenience. What are your lines in the sand? Where are the places that you refuse to shop at?