It used to be that when a company was revealed to have been acting inappropriately financially, enviromentally or socially, people would sue, tie themselves to trees and march around buildings wielding handmade placards like swords. It really wasn't that so long ago… in fact, there are many place where such protests and boycotts still occur. Quieter boycotts, such as families choosing not to frequent McDonalds, happen everyday. We make our choices based on what we know and what we believe.
However there are many who would suggest that the day of the boycott is over. It has become an ineffective tool in the arena of advocacy.
But when something's wrong and attention needs to be drawn to an issue — an irresponsible company for example — what are we to do?
In a previous post, I listed Burt's Bees as a viable alternative to help fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. My sister-in-law questioned me on it, saying she she thought Burt's Bees was now owned by Clorox (best known for its bleach production).
She's correct. Burt's Bees is now owned by Clorox. Check it out:
It's a catch-22 these days: use Fair Trade/Organic product lines from companies known for poor environemental citizenship and social tragedy (slavery) in the hopes that these companies are actually trying to clean up their acts… OR… boycott altogether?
Another example would be Dagoba Organic Chocolate:
I'll admit it: it's FANTASTIC chocolate! But… while it's organic, it's not all Fair Trade. It is owned by Hershey's after all. Again: support the efforts of companies trying to do the right thing (believing that this is exactly what they're doing) OR… strike it off your list and find even better alternatives.
I won't presume to answer this for anyone. Burt's Bees still contains natural ingredients made in the USA which, to my knowledge, thus far has not reduced itself to the use of slave labour. Can this influence help Clorox make better changes in all of its product lines? Yes. Will it? Maybe.
The same goes for Dagoba: not all is Fair Trade. You might be eating healthier chocolate with sugar and cocoa grown on plantations pesticide/herbicide-free… but no guarantees yet about whether slaves were used to make the chocolate. But could this effort influence the rest of Hershey's dismal record? Yes. Will it? Maybe.
So the choice is up to you. Do your research. Do what you sense God wants you to do. If we can influence these enormous corporate giants from the inside out, that could bode well for the world as a whole. If we extract them from our buying habits totally, then we really have no clout or say when they do something wrong. We WANT these companies as partners at the table when talking about ending slavery… stopping pollution… halting corruption… we WANT them to listen AND take sustainable, ethical action!
The choice is ours to make.