Boycotting has traditionally been one of our strongest methods of protest. Many of us remember the massive boycotts of the 1990s against retailers using notorious sweatshops. Some of us even remember Kathie Lee Gifford’s tearful comeuppance in 1996 at the revelation that her clothing line was made by 13-year-olds working 20-hours/day in Honduran sweatshops.
We boycotted the hell out of those retailers. It worked, to some extent: apparel companies banned under-aged workers and mandatory overtime, passed humane standards for health, safety and the environment, and invested at least some money in the betterment of countries where they made their financial killings.
Twenty years later, the manufacturing world has changed. Retailers subcontract to subcontractors who further subcontract to subcontractors who further subcontract and on and on, down to the 50th or the 100th or the 150th tiny foreign shop(s). Many retailers don’t even know the identities of some of their subcontractors; therefore, how can they regulate their subcontractors’ standards? It has blunted some effectiveness of targeted boycotts.
How, then, can we use our dollars to influence ethical practices? Well, the dollar still matters, so it appears that “ethical shopping” for certain companies rather than targeted boycotting against other companies is the way to go. Ethical shopping is the conscious support of socially responsible retailers, who know their subcontractors and control them, who ban under-aged workers and mandatory overtime, have humane standards for health, safety and the environment, and invest at least some money in the betterment of countries where they made their financial killings.
First, you could struggle through the bureaucracy to find those socially responsible corporations, but I wouldn’t advise starting that from scratch.
Secondly, you can check out links from people who have done at least some of the “ethical shopping” work for us by finding socially responsible retailers. Just a few of those sources are:
Third, one veteran boycotter who obviously understands hand-held computers, data bases and apps 1000% better than I suggests using a smart phone, database and user preferences to boycott whole corporate chains of brands while shopping.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T assume your retailer knows all its subcontractors and can control them.
DO learn and practice ethical shopping.
DON’T struggle through the bureaucracy to find those socially responsible corporations
DO check out links from people who have done at least some of the “ethical shopping” work, such as:
DO use a smart phone, database and user preferences to boycott whole corporate chains of brands while shopping. And if you figure out how to do that,
DO let me in on it.
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.