On Courier’s June/August 2015 edition, Jessi Baker discusses how buying is voting and products are an investment.
“I realised when I stepped into a rickety wooden voting booth in the school hall opposite my house, that was my only interaction with politics. I read about it sometimes, but I don’t do anything to act on my thoughts and other than pencilling an ‘X’ in a box, I’m not party to any other decisions for how the place I live in operates. Or so I thought.
As Ezra Taft Benson said, ‘You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices.’
In more ways than many of us are aware of, companies are influencing legislation and government policy every day- holding a power greater than that of the state. Consider that the most populated ‘country’ on Earth is a company, Facebook – the social network that now attracts 1.39 billion users every single month. This amount of power and influence from a brand is unprecedented.
As consumers, we invest our money in companies, every time we buy something. By doing so they gain not only our hard earned cash, but also more power: Wealth, intelligence and influence. The reality is we are voting everyday – with our wallets. But still, we rarely see buying stuff as an investment in something more than the product we walk away with, and certainly not a vote.
People turned a blind eye to slavery right in front of their nose 100 years ago, in the same way we ignore the people, animals and environments that suffer in favour of convenient, cheap products. When our factual knowledge about companies is limited – it’s tricky to point to buying something ludicrously underpriced, that very likely someone and somewhere is suffering to make so cheaply, when we can’t point to alternatives that are 100% free from that predicament. Certainly not on the high street. And even online – many of these seemingly ‘green’, ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ options are caught up in those promise full words and assumed ‘greenwash’, which it could very well be.
A movement is gathering momentum – something many call ‘conscious consumption’. Exhibited through a appetite for products made at a smaller scale, with attention to the supply chain used to create them, this movement is often coupled with buying local. Think small scale breweries and locally made furniture. There’s also larger companies acknowledging this movement through ads that feel more genuine, even displaying images of factories or opening up data about supply chains.
Real change happens through the accumulation of all the small choices we make every day. When you next buy a cup of coffee, think twice about who you might be supporting and where your two quid might be going. Purchases might seem small and inconsequential, but each is a moment to support the change you want to see in the world.”