Hundreds of customers line up at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Laguna Niguel, California on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. Supporters of the company whose executives made comments about gay marriage turned out in huge numbers across the nation. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
If ignorance is bliss, then we as consumers are easily the most ignorant of all.
Conscientious consumerism is an important topic no one seems to care about, especially in college. It’s easy to say being a conscientious consumer is too hard because if you look closely enough all big corporations are terrible. It’s also easy to then say the only way to truly be a conscientious consumer is to shop only small, local or organic, which in college is basically impossible. But paying attention to where you shop and what you buy matters.
As a human you should care about where your products come from and what your favorite companies are doing to effect the world around you.
I myself am guilty of making these excuses and buying something even though I don’t agree with things I know the company does, and honestly, it’s a total cop-out. When I look back on times I’ve bought products from companies I don’t agree with I realize that I did so out of laziness.
For example, a few years ago a lot of people began boycotting Chick-fil-a after the CEO made some very hateful comments about same-sex marriage. I was one of those boycotters. It’s been about four years since this happened, and same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States, but I still try not to eat at Chick-fil-a. I know a lot of people think my beliefs about this are stupid and I should just move on now because the controversy is over, but I stand by my decision not to ever eat at Chick-fil-a…most of the time.
There have been two or three instances where I have eaten there in the last few years, and I regret every one. Every one of those instances involved my friends wanting to eat at Chick-fil-a and me being simply too lazy and too hungry to explain to the group why, years later, I still don’t eat at Chick-fil-a. Looking back I could have easily just said “No, I want to go somewhere else,” or even gone along and just not ordered anything, but like I said, I was lazy.
Being lazy is the easiest and most ridiculous excuse consumers use when shopping. It’s not actually hard to be a conscientious consumer if you are just willing to put in a little extra work.
For instance, if you hear about a scandal or a political opinion from a company or product you buy, do some research. Find out if what you heard is even true or not because often times details get lost or changed when things get passed by word of mouth, and what you heard may or may not be true.
If you do research and find the rumors are true and the company is doing something you don’t agree with, then the next step is easy: stop buying from the company. That may seem drastic, and it will probably suck to have to find another product or company where you can get the same things you like for a similar price, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Big corporations have so much power, and it’s easy for them to get away with whatever they want. The only way that is going to change is if we as consumers actually seem to care about what they do. That may mean buying a product that is slightly more expensive or further away than you would like, but in the long run, it is much more important to care about what happens when you shop rather than the convenience of just buying blind.