Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Oh my goodness, I've been such a blogger fail. We might as well admit it. Two post-less weeks? That's two too many. I will offer no excuses. Instead, I will replace my blogging-lack with blogging abundance. Go forth, children of the interwebz, frolic amidst this digital fruit.

In this post I will say something vastly obvious that, despite its being vastly obviousness, no one ever seems to think of. I'd go so far as to call it an alternative perspective. Here goes:

The other day I was hanging out with a good friend, who often goes on long-winded rants. (I secretly suspect that this quality may have something to do with why we're such good friends. But. Anyways.) The subject of her ire was Chapters because OMG THEY NEVER HAVE WHAT I WANT AND THEY PUSH ALL OF THE INDEPENDENT SELLERS OUT OF THE MARKET AND NONE OF THE EMPLOYEES KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT BOOKS AND WHERE DID THE SQUISHY CHAIRS GO, ASHLEY? HUH? WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE SQUISHY CHAIRS?!

(As someone who spent more than a year of my life working in the children's section of Chapters, telling stories, reading kids' books like nobody's business, and cleaning up those detestable squishy bags of stuffing and disease, I have my own opinions on these complaints, but I digress...)

The point is, this rant occured while she was standing in Chapters, shopping. She proceeded to head to the checkout with about $30 worth of book stuffs.

Okay, now. The general overhead for a book purchased in Chapters is about 60%. This means that she had just invested $18 in a company she finds not only lousy, but a hinderance to the local book market at large. I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?

We do it all the time. We complain about Chapters, McDonald's, about companies that test on animals, about meat sellers who treat their livestock in ways we find abhorrent, about chemical companies that release too much pollution, about Exxon and oil companies, about companies that pay their lower-level staff wages we find unreasonably low for the value of their work. And yet, we keep buying from them. We enable them to keep on keeping on.

The general line of reasoning seems to be: "My purchases don't make a difference. This book, this tank of gas, this cheeseburger is nothing in the big picture." But we forget that there isn't some big picture, out there, happening. The big picture is you and I getting up in the morning, walking out the door, and deciding which companies we want to support today. Which business' philosophies are ones of which I approve? Which are not?

I'm not going to say that the same things will matter to the same people. The fact that Chapters refuses to stock first-time poets may or may not be an issue for you. KFC's pumping their chickens full of hormones until they are so fat they can neither support their own weight nor copulate might not cause you to blink twice. Old Navy's use of sweatshop labour might be alright in your books. There are valid and in-depth arguments to be made for both sides of these issues.

The point is, if you're going out and consciously handing money to someone who you think is doing something lousy, in order that they might keep doing it, and you're reaping the benefits of their actions... Well, who's doing the lousy thing? You guessed it.

We can't research everything we buy without becoming a nation of hypertensive loons, but we can research a lot of it. I try not to buy from Chapters anymore. I like results of PertPlus more than most other shampoos, but not enough to support Proctor & Gamble. My dog never once in her life at Iams. I'm learning that I'd rather go buy my clothes from Value Village than the mall. If there's an album I really like I don't just download it, I buy it. This is just me. You might come at this from a completely different angle.

The point is: I implore you, dear readers, to consider putting your money where your mouth is. Maybe you'll put it different places than I put mine, or the next person puts theirs, but put it where you think it belongs. Don't, for heaven's sake, hand $18 to the thing you think is the devil of the capitalist world. It's just good sense.

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posted by Ashley Girty @ 11:16 AM, ,