Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 05.11.11
Vote With Your Feet
We often like to point a finger or two at giant corporations and call them out for destroying the environment, exploiting children or helping the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. But are we the wind beneath their wings?
There aren’t many ways to wage war on big, multi-national conglomerates these days. With the same coffee chains and fast food stores occupying way too many street corners of cities right across the world, capitalist development appears to be just about unstoppable.
But at the end of the day, their existence relies solely on one thing: attracting consumers, which is brilliant because – that’s us! As consumers we get to decide who goes and who stays; who wins and who loses; who gets away with murder and what we’re not going to tolerate anymore.
‘Fairtrade’, ‘organic’, ‘ethically-sourced’ stamps of approval denoting moral standards are far more prevalent than they used to be, which suggests that as consumers we’re waking up and taking note of how the things we buy affect the wider world. But consuming responsibly doesn’t just stop at food…
Purchasing clothes made by ethical manufacturers rather than in sweat shops. Being aware of where your coffee beans were harvested, and by whom. Reading a reputable news source rather than pages filled with intrusive paparazzi snaps. Watching a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio about the mining of diamonds in Sierra Leone is part of it too, because half the battle of generating social change is raising awareness. Deciding to walk into the small, less shiny corner store run by a local family rather than the big, air-conditioned shopping centre with the neon lights. Choosing, with every product we consume, to be mindful of how our decisions affect others. That is voting with your feet.