Every time you spend money, you cast a vote for the kind of society you want

Have you ever seen a thing and thought to yourself, “that thing there is both true and.. kind of disingenuous? Maybe a bit problematic?” Agreed with something while simultaneously thinking it’s fairly dodgy?

Take a look at this quote:Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want

Yep. I can’t argue with the truth of the statement- the fact that our money does support the companies making the things that we pay for is not something that we can get away from. I’m generally in favour of people voting with their wallets. If my money goes toward a sustainable, local business that provides great working conditions from its employees and sources its products ethically? That’s obviously a hell of a lot better than that same money going towards a company that tears apart communities and environments.

But it’s a problematic statement to make, as well. Because- like more kinds of voting than most of us are comfortable admitting- voting with our wallets isn’t something that we can all do.

Can you afford to vote?

Continued at the Tea Cosy’s new home!

9 thoughts on “Every time you spend money, you cast a vote for the kind of society you want

  1. Exactly! Consumer decisions, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a substitute for activism.

  2. Excellent piece Aoife. Something myself and my friend were actually discussing the other day. We’re both struggling financially, and we feel bad for shopping in certain supermarkets which don’t give farmers the best deal, but unfortunately, if we want to eat, we have to. It’s easy to have principles but generally speaking these have to go out the window when you can’t afford to have them.

  3. Yup. Yup yup yup.

    I also really dislike the hypocrisy associated with these sentiments a lot of time. Getting told off for shopping in Primark by someone who owns Nike or Tommy Hilfiger. Getting judged for drinking a Coke by someone who buys Nestle. The fact is – unless you take yourself off into the mountains to live exclusively off goats and root vegetables and weave your own clothes from hemp – at some point, your money is going to be going towards companies who are giving their workers a shit deal, or damaging the environment or running dodgy marketing campaigns with no regard for anything except more profits. Most the time there’s no way to tell where your money’s actually going, because well… http://www.upworthy.com/graphic-these-10-companies-own-so-much-they-even-own-this-graphic

    So then you have to ask, “If I disagree with the actions of a parent company, do I then boycott all the subsidiaries? Even though some of them might actually be operating fairly independently and doing good work for the communities they effect?”

    Like you said, for a lot of people, it’s not financially viable, but it’s also not practically viable. Time poverty is a real thing and decision making fatigue is something that disproportionately effects people with low incomes. Being rich is, in essence, the freedom to make fewer small survival decisions on a daily basis, thus freeing you up to think about the big issues. I often hear the line, “well, you should make your own toothpaste/grow your own vegetables/bake your own bread and then you’d be saving money as well as consuming ethically!” But if you’re working a sixty hour week to cover your rent, this just isn’t feasible. All these things take time and energy, not to mention resource gathering and the learning curve involved. It’s not just a money thing.

    All any of us can do is our best. Sometimes this means we can’t vote with our wallets, but we can agitate and write and sign petitions and raise awareness among those who can.

    • This is a great comment. The concept of decision making fatigue is something I have to explain again and again to importers when they complain about regulations banning this or that substance and why should they have to worry about it can’t people just make these decisions themselves. I usually pick the most obscure of the banned substances and ask them what it does to the human body and where in their products it’s likely to be found. They look at me blankly. Then I ask how is a carpenter or an estate agent or a civil engineer supposed to know if the imoprter doesn’t know. I usually follow up by asking them how their drinking water is processed. (Which neither of us has a clue about). Then I ask would they rather have expert government health inspectors looking after the cleanliness of their drinking water or would they prefer to make those decisions themselves.

      tl;dr Regulations are created to reduce decision making fatigue and ensure that everyone gets the fairest deal possible.

  4. And it’s not going to fix things. Even if everybody in the world bought ethically sourced products from fantastic businesses all the time, we’d have, at best, a precariously balanced kind of good. We still have a system ripe for exploitation. One that would require constant vigilance on the part of, it seems, absolutely everybody in order for it to work to make a decent standard of living for everyone…. or standards for the industry could be introduced so government does the policing and we don’t have to ? … I live in a Utopian dream bubble

    Also I think the quote is also highlighting an issue with poor people.. ie if you are poor you have less votes and less of a say on what you can buy… that is how I see it anyways

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