Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Convicted Shopper

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. --George Burns

I receive a daily email from Charityfocus. It shares a quote, and then a small paragraph about something good someone is doing in the world. One of the recent ones I read was about a book and website called Better World Shopper by Ellis Jones. The basic idea of it is this: as consumers we have the power to choose the kind of world we want to live in, by how we spend our money. The author looked at 5 criteria for the companies he reviewed and the ones that connect the most with me are human rights, the environment, and social justice.

So who are the bad guys out there? Where to start...first the good news how about:)
I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the products and services I use and like got an "A" on the scale (Silk Soy Milk, Burts Bees, American Airlines, Apple Computers, IKEA, and American Apparel). But I was also dismayed at all the products/services I've used that got "C" through "F" grades including: Continental Airlines, Gerber Baby Products, Nestle, Kraft, Nabisco, Dove, Lubriderm, Post Cereals, Twix, Skittles, M&M's, Hershey's, Toblerone (Gasp! NOT Toblerone!?!?) The Gap Clothing (no big surprise there) Covergirl and Revlon Cosmetics, Visa, Adidas, Nike, and the least surprisingly of all...Wal-Mart. There are several categories as you can see and the list goes on but I'll stop with the ones that struck me.

Now the one big grocery store we have here in Guatemala is Paiz, which is being taken over by Wal-Mart. Everytime I go now I see the Wal-Mart logo popping up on different products. BUT I can't boycott this store when it's the only place I can get whole-wheat spaghetti noodles, mushrooms, a selection of dry cereal and ( just recently) Earl Grey tea.

BUT once we live in Canada again I will happily avoid Wal-Mart and shop at Farmers Markets and Health Food Stores as much as financially possible. I really believe each individual has the power to promote change, so I will quietly do my part. And I will happily share my reasons with anyone who asks me why I choose to avoid certain products and services. Now I just have to figure out how I am going to survive without some Toblerone chocolate at Christmas...


dawn said...

I admire your conviction. I do okay with some things, and not others. Toblerone, would be a tough one.

Petra said...

I've been avoiding Wal-mart for about two or three years now, (with the occasional slip up) but I'll admit that a few of the other companies might be harder. But here's to getting better. :) I actually have a toblerone bar in my cupboard as we speak. :)

Debby said...

I understand your want the products but don't want to support certain companies. When you are in Canada you'll have more choice. I have been shopping at Zellers more for a couple support a canadian store...and it's nice and quiet and has good stuff (including whole wheat pasta). Also Superstore has brown rice pasta very reasonably priced.
Now the really important's Swiss...what can be wrong with that company??? I was planning to bring some down to Cancun!!(for my sweet chocoholic daughter in law!:) ) Hersheys is American...and also had a factory in Ontario which has shut down :(

April said...

Luckily, Wal-mart is really out of the way for me so by default I have avoided it. But, dollar stores are notorious for selling sweat shop products... There is enough chocolate out there to satisfy your craving, I'll check out 'rittersport' and bring some

Anonymous said...

I read your blogs always and have been waiting for a new one to comment! :) I loved your comments on mine, so I have determined to become a better commenter! I too share your convictions, but you will see it is very hard sometimes to avoid the "bad" ones. But it is worth putting forth the effort. I am all for consignment stores, garage sales, and farmer's markets. My kids thought it normal that their Christmas presents came from garage sales! :) Hope you are well... waiting for a new blog to comment on! :) Michelle

Amber said...

Dawn - you grow a lot of your own produce so that's awesome. I really want to do that as soon as I have a plot of land to call my own!

Petra - way to boycott Wal-mart! I am duly impressed:) They really make an awful lot of junk anyway. Hope I haven't soured that Toblerone in your cupboard for you;)

Debby - Is Zellers really Canadian? That's great if so. And I think the superstore brands are made in Canada too - yay! As for the Toblerone - Zaak can tell you about the Swiss...he's smart that son of yours:)

April - Where is Rittersport made do you know? Chocolate opens up a whole new can of worms because a huge portion of cocoa is from Africa and child labor abounds there...sigh.

Mish - Is there much to choose from in the stores in S.A.? You mentioned going to a big market, so are you able to get most of your produce there? I think you and Carl introduced us to Ten Thousand Villages - thanks!