Home Consequences Dollar Voting and Ethical Consumerism

Dollar Voting and Ethical Consumerism

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A protester offers free glitter outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Crystal City, Virginia, Friday, August 3, 2012. Gay rights activists and other gay marriage supporters held a "Kiss In" at Chick-fil-A restaurants to protest the fast-food chain owners' opposition to same-sex unions. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

By Braeden Pelton and Kevin Lopez

With all of the craziness going on in the world today, the average person can feel helpless. But you can do something, even if it is a small impact, your money can change so much.

For example, a store donates to a political group you don’t agree with, so you decide not to spend your money at that store. This is called dollar voting, consuming products based on personal morals and values. Another example would be opting to buy from a small, local business rather than a larger corporation.

While only a few people practicing dollar voting doesn’t affect much, a group practicing it in large quantities can sway a business to change its ways. Think of boycotts, or how many people chose not to purchase from Chick-Fil-A due to their opposition of the queer community. 

Dollar voting is a form of ethical consumerism, choosing how you spend based on a company’s ethical practices. Things like greenhouse gas production, where a business outsources its work, or if they use child labor.

There are ways to see whether an organization donates to particular groups, or uses fair labor. Companies can obtain something known as a Fair Trade certification that verifies that they source their work ethically, focus on equality in their workplace, among other qualifications.

You can see ethical companies on Fair Trade´s certified brand page. But there are other sites like Open Secrets which share what companies donate the most money to particular charities, political parties, or social issues. Goods Unite Us lets you search a brand’s public political affiliation. There’s a page to search up any belief of a business if you search hard enough.

Some believe that this doesn’t make a difference, that you can’t worry about these businesses and their actions because they assume that those issues don’t matter.

Different people care about different subjects in regards to why they will or won’t shop at a particular place. Cynthia Brown of Grand Rapids is one such person. “I watched this thing on Walmart and how a lot of their stuff comes from third world countries and small children are making these items that we´re buying,” Brown said.

Others make their decisions based on knowing the business. Emily Thill of Kent City supports content creators and doesn’t take it further than that. “I purchase things from Tik Tok stars and their merch page,” Thill said. “But other than that I don’t really think much (about it).”

“(There’s) this startup called Oats Overnight. I decided to buy stuff off of them because they´re starting up and I figured I would help them out because I am interested in what they are doing,” Thill said.

Sometimes you can’t afford to spend your money elsewhere, or only one company makes a certain product. 

Suzanne Chavez of Grand Rapids believes conscious shopping is best, but not always convenient. “I can also understand people just shopping where they can, like Shein for example,” Chavez said. “Fast fashion is the thing now and it’s cheap, but it’s not good for the environment at all. Sometimes people don’t have a choice, but if you can do something that can help out then I would recommend it.”

How you spend your money can affect those around you. Even if you don’t see it, the accumulation of all the people who don’t worry where their money ends up going can hurt your family, your friends, and those you don’t know.

It is easy to say to always be aware of where your money goes, but that is not an easy task. Some people don’t have the luxury to do so, but the one thing people can be aware of is the power they hold.

With all of the craziness in the world, you may feel powerless, but in reality, you have all the power in the world and it starts with the money in your wallet.

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