Buy Smart

By Laura Glick

I try to be aware of where my money goes. I boycott stores that sell pornography, avoid Nike like it’s ebola and read the labels on my vegetarian food. I try to know what company owns what, where they manufacture and avoid companies that employ child labor. But it’s getting harder and harder to be politically correct and socially conscious, especially on a student’s budget.

It seems every week a new corporate merger takes place and a mother corporation with reprimandable practices swallows multiple "friendly" companies. By friendly I mean ecologically, politically, human, and animal friendly. There are also new revelations about existing companies previously considered okay to support. Some of these revelations are not well publicized and cause even greater alarm when the potential for harm is high.

For instance, Cover Girl reportedly uses carcinogens as a "raw ingredient" and thus avoids regulation normally applicable to such toxins. Just what I need, to get cancer from mascara. Then there’s Vans who use a toxic glue and have moved factories outside North America to escape laws regarding its use. So now people’s shoes may cause illness or death for people half way across the world.

At times, it feels like a losing battle, but I can’t escape the gnawing feeling it is my responsibility to make informed choices and to make the best possible effort to steer clear of reprehensible companies. Some people say my buying one pair of shoes or purchasing one shirt from a humanitarian-deficient company will not make a difference. If everyone held that notion, it would make a difference. because thousands of people would contribute to an ignoble company.

Things complicate further when the cheapest products come from the most evil hands. Why can’t organic foods be cheap so everyone would buy them? Why can’t everyone realize animals are invaluable and deserve to be treated with respect? How can individuals in management positions look out and witness the squalor conditions before them, yet still sleep soundly at night?

Is it just me? Am I hypersensitive and too judgmental? Even if the answer is yes, I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror knowing I blindly bought a product which was made by a 10 year-old, simply because the brand name is "cool." I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that I had indirectly caused the death or injury of a worker who works in substandard conditions, or that an animal was harmed so I could derive superficial pleasure.

Maybe I’m insane, maybe I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but the very least I can do is try.

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