Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tool Kit of the Informed Consumer.

Almost everyone in America has access to a powerful tool. Access to information has become practically ubiquitous. The cell phone in your pocket probably has more computing power then every computer created up until I was15 years old combined. This power, if used properly can change the world in real and meaningful ways, if you are up to the challenge.

I posit this, decide on a month, or a week or even a year (if you are the competitive type) and research every purchasing decision. Make a little time in the evening, and look at the business practices of every label in your fridge and pantry. If you shop at a corporate store this will probably be easy, you will find that most of the products you consume come from only a handful of sources. When I say business practices I am referring to the entire vertically integrated system, from raw material extraction, through domestic labor practices to get it onto your shelf.

When you are spending money on a product, it sends a message to the provider. That message is "I agree with your business practices." Every dollar you spend is a vote, the only vote that truly matters in the system created by industry today (including the political). The single best way to have your voice heard today is by abstaining from supporting evil.

Would you still feel comfortable wearing a diamond ring if you knew that the very rock on your finger cost the lives of a man's family? Would the shirt you wear still warm you if you knew a child was chained to a loom to create the fabric? How would the meat you eat taste knowing that tracts of rain forest had to be cleared for that steer to be grazed? A lot of this information will be hidden from you, for obvious marketing reasons. So if a part of the supply chain is left out of an explanation then you might be best off erring on the side of caution.

For me personally, I value environmental issues above all else (not that I think labor issues are unimportant). So I would rather do without, than to allow some corporate entity to sacrifice my moral ideals without my knowledge or consent. If they can't account for it, I'm not going to buy it. Don't give in to the social pressure that is generated by advertising. Just because everyone else is dumb enough to be manipulated in that way does not mean you have be as well.

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