Sept. 20, 2021

7. Giving up brands with shaky values


Today’s letter is about giving up brands with values that are different to our own. Here’s the letter:

Before I offer up two suggestions for things you can do, let's be clear that it was never intended to be our responsibility as individuals to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses of their employees, or to have the task of having to research whether your paint shop is actively lobbying against providing basic human rights to all people. That was never supposed to be our responsibility. Our governments have that responsibility and in a cruel twist that anyone could have seen coming, our corporations have continued to weaken our government over time to the point that that we are in now.

So, I do believe in doing what is within our control, I do believe in putting pressure on those who are in positions of power, but I want to acknowledge that first.

If you are financially insecure and truly are making trade offs between affording mental health care for yourself or buying from socially responsible places, then please, take care of your needs, because we don’t have much of a safety net in our country with the way it is currently set up. But, if you have some financial stability, and you have the mental capacity to think about doing some good with your money, then here are a couple of suggestions:
The first one is to start with the biggest purchases you make. I don’t want to suggest you obsess over small purchases you rarely make. I would think about your budget and what the top line items are. It might be that housing is your biggest cost, followed by student loans, followed by health insurance, followed by food costs, followed by other items. Those food costs might be a great place to start. If you’re worried about the harmful impacts of the big box grocery store where you shop, consider shopping at a co-op if there is one in your neighborhood. It’s sort of similar to thinking about reducing your carbon footprint, rather than obsessing over your plastic straws, I would encourage you to spend a month thinking about the next car you purchase, or your local elections where you can not vote for candidates who will not make the high level, broad, sweeping reforms necessary. I’m not saying straws don’t count, I’m just saying, we’re all busy, if you have limited time to do your research, spend it on the big ticket items that make a bigger difference.

A second suggestion: sometimes you can’t or don’t want to give up those hate fries from that place that makes perfect waffle fries, or you don’t want to give up the one stop shopping for cheap art supplies once a year, in that case, put money towards the causes you do support. In my case, after I shopped at the art store, I made a donation to a organization that explicitly provides equal access to women’s health care and also lobbies the government for it. 

Neither of these are perfect solutions. Just paths to consider.

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Transcript

Today's letter is about giving up brands with values that are different than our own! Here's the letter:

I can't give up the hate nachos from the restaurant in my neighborhood but I'm trying to vote with my dollars. What can I do? I'm ashamed and hiding this behavior from my friends.

Oh man, this is a tough one and very relatable! I once had a personal art project where I needed to make a few dozen crafts and it required several different art supplies and of course, was going to cost quite a bit by the time everything added up. It was all part of a bigger thing I was doing that was costing me quite a bit of money. So I was feeling stressed about time, and I was feeling particularly cost conscious. This led me to a large art store which I knew for sure had publicly stood against some human rights values that are core to my being and my identity. I have a photo I took of myself for myself to remind myself of the shame I felt at shopping there that day. Dramatic, right?

And it’s not the first time we’ve ben confronted with this, right? I remember weaning myself off Walmart and Nike and finding those stores slowly creeping back into my wallet. Bottom line is that it is hard.

I do have 2 recommendations to consider. And actually before I even offer up two things you can do, I want to say what needs to be said which is that it was never intended to be our responsibility as individuals to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses of their employees, or to have the task of having to research whether your paint shop is actively lobbying against providing basic human rights to all people. That was never supposed to be our responsibility. Our governments have that responsibility and in a cruel twist that anyone could have seen coming, our corporations have continued to weaken our government over time to the point that that we are in now.

So, I do believe in doing what is within our control, I do believe in putting pressure on those who are in positions of power, but I want to acknowledge that first.

If you are financially insecure and truly are making trade offs between affording mental health care for yourself or buying from socially responsible places, then please, take care of your needs, because we don’t have much of a safety net in our country with the way it is currently set up. But, if you have some financial stability, and you have the mental capacity to think about doing some good with your money, then here are a couple of suggestions:
The first one is to start with the biggest purchases you make. I don’t want to suggest you obsess over small purchases you rarely make. I would think about your budget and what the top line items are. It might be that housing is your biggest cost, followed by student loans, followed by health insurance, followed by food costs, followed by other items. Those food costs might be a great place to start. If you’re worried about the harmful impacts of the big box grocery store where you shop, consider shopping at a co-op if there is one in your neighborhood. It’s sort of similar to thinking about reducing your carbon footprint, rather than obsessing over your plastic straws, I would encourage you to spend a month thinking about the next car you purchase, or your local elections where you can not vote for candidates who will not make the high level, broad, sweeping reforms necessary. I’m not saying straws don’t count, I’m just saying, we’re all busy, if you have limited time to do your research, spend it on the big ticket items that make a bigger difference.

A second suggestions, sometimes you can’t or don’t want to give up those hate fries from that place that makes perfect waffle fries, or you don’t want to give up the one stop shopping for cheap art supplies once a year, in that case, put money towards the causes you do support. In my case, after I shopped at the art store, I made a donation to a organization that explicitly provides equal access to women’s health care and also lobbies the government for it. 
This is not a perfect solution. It is just one path you can consider.

For some people, it is easy, they find out that a company has harmful practices and they immediately disengage. Some of us tend to live in the grey area. If you have found a way to wean yourself off a company, please get in touch and share your tips.