We all want the world to change, yet we don’t like to make sacrifices. Thoughts such as, “we don’t have to change, companies just need to do better” or “if we demand better products then companies will be more ethical” are actually misleading.
Many millennials, in order to cope with the harsh realities of life, blame corporations for human exploitation, climate change on mankind, and so on. Few like to accept their own role and contribution. Corporations and businesses wouldn’t be able to make a profit in the first place if there wasn’t anyone to buy these products. Instead of consuming less, Americans and other Westerners alike, demand for more “ethical” products in order to continue consuming, guilt free of course.
In fact, consumers are so aware that companies are advertising themselves as “ethical”, “eco-friendly”, and “sustainable” that if a business does not advertise themselves as such, they pout and cry and proceed to call for the boycott of the said business.
As individuals, we do not like to make sacrifices, so instead we as consumers create the perfect scenario in which businesses create a brand to market themselves as “morally good”, while allowing for the consumer to keep spending money without any moral guilt. This sort of “protest”, better known as “consumer activism” still upholds the current economic system that continuously allows for the exploitation of others.
Consumers that are able to afford these “ethical” and “fair-trade” products are most likely entitled and at the top of the food chain, considering that “ethical” and “fair-trade” products are quite expensive. The “ethical” and “fair-trade” products are specifically targeting the more (educated) and affluent Western population. I put quotations around the word “educated” because many of us still fail to do our research, and because higher education is closer to cult indoctrination these days.
We all hear the stories of sweatshops in Bangladesh, Thailand, China, or insert the name of any country from the “developing” world. Yet, we choose to paint the picture of happy people of color making clothes. The New Yorker already said it–even when all the facts are on the table we choose what we want to believe. You may think that your consumer activism is changing corporations and hence, the world. In fact, you are asking for the lion to dress as a sheep.
What’s the best solution to this problem?
Curb your consumerism. Buy what you need and not all that you want. Consumerism is a vicious cycle and this kind of activism is just a nice way to keep you shopping without “remorse” or culpability. Just like a hamster running in its wheel. Stop asking the lion to dress like a sheep just so that you can pretend there is no lion, and can continue with your trendy and social justice infused lifestyle.