I used to live in Tulsa, OK, the home of Hobby Lobby. I even used to shop there. 20 years ago. I also quit shopping there (and their sister store Mardel’s) 20 years ago–for many of the same reasons we see in the headlines today. While I do find it difficult, if not impossible, to find companies that support all the causes with which we believe. I have elected over the years to not shop at the following places:
1. Hobby Lobby/Mardel’s: While I am a Christian, I had a problem with how they used their money in politics. I also avoid Michael’s when possible and stick with locally owned businesses, especially businesses that use American made products rather than overpriced cheap Chinese products. Heck, even the 99¢ Store has more American made products than one would expect.
2. Wal Mart: Predatory business practices coupled with a poor track record on employee relations (union busters who underpay help while overpaying top management) have kept me from their aisles for nearly two decades. Not to mention that they offshore as much manufacturing as possible and take no responsibility for the horrid conditions in the overseas factories that produce their products (think Rana Plaza).
3. Chick-fil-a: I will eat here from time to time, but I try to go elsewhere because, again, I have a problem with my consumer dollars going to causes in which I sincerely disagree. I firmly believe in equality under the law and the separation of church and state, and I don’t think buying a chicken sandwich (poster paper and puff pens) should fund discriminatory policy and laws.
And while I do not boycott seafood restaurants yet, I’ve become much more cognizant asking if their supplies of fish are sustainable–especially in species I know to be endangered. For example, I recently went to a really nice local restaurant (not a chain) that had Chilean Sea Bass on the menu. I love Sea Bass, but I know it is endangered, so I choose to not eat it. But I asked the waitress if any of the seafood was sustainable. None of it was. Nor was any of their gourmet food locally grown. So I now avoid this restaurant except for happy hour.
As a consumer who consumes quite a lot of “stuff”, I have grown more and more aware of the products I purchase. It is my responsibility to spend my dollars wisely. And it is my responsibility to ensure that the companies whose products I buy are responsible businesses friendly to the environment and the communities in which they operate. Being a responsible consumer is time-sucking and difficult to do. But we all have to start somewhere. I started with these three years ago. Now is time to start adding to the list. Just as one voice and one vote matters, one person’s dollars matter too. Because in the end, I am more than one person. I teach my son; I talk to my friends and family; I dialogue with colleagues and in the community. I am more than me.