I have been an activist of some sorts for most of my life. I remember in high school, as part of an assignment, we had to do research a company and present on it. It was 1987, and I learned that Domino’s Pizza supports the pro-life movement, which at that time was quite violent. I haven’t purchased a Domino’s pizza since. Hasn’t made a difference, really, since women’s reproductive rights have only diminished since then, but at least I know my money isn’t going to support it. I also won’t support the BSA, I’ll explain it to my boys if they ask to join. I also won’t buy the popcorn that they sell in front of the Acme, or any of their other fundraisers. We just got a flyer for a Boy Scout mulch sale, I immediately tossed flyer into trash as hubby was saying “But we do need mulch……” Nope. I am in agreement with this essay about it in the Philly Inquirer.
Conversely, there are businesses I go out of my way to support, such as those who go out of their way to hire people with disabilities.. Walgreens has a long history of their commitment to people with disabilities, so I try to shop there. Acme Markets and Cosi have both been an Arc of Chester County employer of the year for their commitment to employing people with disabilities, so I am very loyal to them.
Supporting big tobacco, sweat shops, animal testing, GMOs, civil rights….it can be exhausting trying to keep track of it all. Trust me when I tell you that I can be a giant PITA to shop with. So I asked some other bloggers to chime in on this, as far as what they support and don’t support when they shop. Their answers are interesting. (side note: I had to edit for length to include everyone, so I may have deleted content that pertained to you not liking their actual products–rather than boycotting for business/political reasons)
Brenna from Almost All the Truth:
I boycott Nestle because of their business practices in baby formula marketing, chocolate sourced from child and slave labor, and bottled water that harms communities and environment. I also boycott Shell because of their historic and continued horrific abuses against the Ogoni people and their land.
Oh yes, Nestle is on my list too, one of my charter members. They consistently violate the WHO’s marketing standards practice for baby formula. As a result, millions of moms in developing countries choose formula over breastfeeding, but they don’t have the foresight to plan it out–and then they don’t have the money to keep buying the baby formula, nor do they have even clean water to make it with! So they make it with unclean water, and dilute it, and babies die.
Sierra from Actual Mom:
We just, this month, switched from progressive auto insurance after being with them for 12 years. Their politics are too liberal for us and we left, letting them know why we opted to leave.
Hey, that’s different. I may just google that to see what they support. Maybe I will switch to progressive, it’s hard to be too liberal for me.
Denise from MyMidLifeMotherhood chimed in, with more thoughts on conservatism:
I think I more so choose to support certain brands due to politics or business practices rather than boycott. For instance, I might choose to take our family to Chick-Fil-A because the company is run by Christians, is closed on Sunday, and has similar values to mine.
As a conservative Christian, I feel that my beliefs are continually insulted, denigrated, mocked, and no longer tolerated in our society which prides itself on “tolerance” (as long as it has nothing to do with Christianity.) And, therefore, as my values are becoming more and more of a minority view in this post-modern world, I think I would have to live an isolationist life if I avoided everything and everyone who holds a different world view than mine. For instance, I love to watch movies and it would be sad for me to give that up just because I disagreed with the political opinions or lifestyles of the actors and producers who make the films. Knowing Robert Downey, Jr. has had major issues with drugs, alcohol, prison…etc., does not keep me from enjoying Iron Man! Now if he were to make a movie glorifying the use of drugs, alcohol and prison…then I would choose to not see that particular film.
Up until now, I haven’t boycotted a business due to their political stance though I can’t think of an instance where I would boycott a business for that reason. I have chosen to take my business elsewhere if I don’t think they treat their employees fairly or provide them with a living wage and benefits.More and more I find myself focusing on buying locally and getting to know the owner/producer and asking questions about where the materials are coming from.I prefer to keep my dollars in the United States.
I do try to be judicious about where I spend my money politically. It’s hard because there are very few companies that are good across the board politically and if you refuse to shop anywhere with values different than yours you will soon find yourself shopping nowhere. I flat out refuse to shop at major workers rights offenders, companies that predatorily target vulnerable communities, and the biggest funders of ultra-conservative agendas (for example Wal-Mart or McDonalds). On the other hand I try and concentrate my spending at places I feel are doing good things for their workers and communities (for example local businesses or a pro-union company like Costco). Beyond voting with my dollars I make sure I’m vocal about why I spend the money the way I do – to the companies themselves and others who might want to be more aware with their spending. I do realize that my small budget won’t make or break a company’s bottom line, and I also realize that my dollars end up places I don’t want them to be no matter how careful I am – still, politics is still a consideration for me when I spend, but it’s only a small part of my activism.
Yes. I, and my family, do boycott businesses that discriminate against people. The most recent addition to our list is Chick-Fil-A, for taking a “religious” stance against gay marriage and for supporting anti-gay organizations with Chick’s profits. I will not allow them to spend my money on these projects, though they do have a right to spend their money however they want. (I am a Christian and I do not believe that Jesus would discriminate against any particular group in this manner.)
There are other choices that I make at the Grocery store that aren’t outright boycotts. I hope that abstaining from certain products has an effect, but I don’t neccessarily boycott the entire brand because, oftentimes, these same brands are also putting out much healthier products, often in the same category. For example, Kashi has been owned by the Kellogg company since 2000 (though operated separately), but I still buy Kashi, thus hopefully encouraging better foods from Kellogg’s.
We do boycott and avoid businesses and brands who have been known to have fair trade issues or child labor issues in the past. We are also passionate about supporting companies that have strong environmental practices. I think voting with your dollar is an important way for your voice to be heard.
Recently many companies have pulled their support of Donald Trump, or pulled ads from racist TV channels such as Breitbart. Kellogg’s just made news for doing this, so all the ultra-conservative bigots are calling for people to boycott Kellogg’s. Me? that will just have me buying more! Other companies who decided to pull their ads from Breitbart can be found here.
This post was originally published in 2013, but since so many people are talking about boycotts right now, I dug it up, dusted it off, updated it and republished.