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.

Labels: ,

posted by Ashley Girty @ 11:16 AM,


At April 10, 2009 at 12:18 PM, Blogger NICOLE M said...

unfortunately this is an "alternative perspective" for now. People will spend the time to researching into where they can find the best deal but wont do so to find about where they can purchase their products from companies who have morals! As someone who has done their research it is frustrating to stand in front of a long shelf and only see a very small section of it that is taken up by animal friendly, real organic and/or fair trade options. You are right, it can be as simple as reading all the fine print on the packages of EVERY SINGLE THING YOU BUY. Tell your friend that there is a great used/vintage bookstore on Ottawa St.! Great post :)

At April 19, 2009 at 11:13 PM, Blogger Phog Blog said...

Nice post.
I think the key to many of these steps is to BE THE EXAMPLE we want our friends and family to emulate...for whatever reason.
Biking instead of driving is another. We complain about the environment, but we drive EVERYWHERE. If we plan ahead, cycling is possible, rain or shine, short distances or long.
Money in the mouth. I agree.

At April 22, 2009 at 11:33 PM, Blogger Ashley Girty said...

Thanks guys! Ottawa St? Are you talking about Juniper's? If so, I agree; great store & super-friendly staff!

You make a great point about biking. I'm a big fan of the bus, but recently I've really been thinking about investing in a bike this summer... It's green and might actually develop some leg muscles!

At July 31, 2009 at 7:49 AM, Blogger Paige said...

Totally agree. But the idea of 'voting with your money' is frequently limited to the middle class+, because need will often supersede politics (rightfully so, I think). If you have $10 to spend on food or clothes, you really need to maximize the utility of what you buy. And so we often see a loop of the poor supporting businesses which keep the poor down, like Wal-Mart.

I think it's highly problematic that some of the only ways for poor people in Canada to sustain themselves is through the indirect exploitation of even poorer people elsewhere. But what can be done?

At July 31, 2009 at 11:27 AM, Blogger Ashley Girty said...

You make an excellent point, Paige; it's a vicious circle in some ways. However, if more middle and upper class spenders reduced the number of dollars they spent at these establishments, the business' strong-holds might begin to crumble. So I think it's potentially also a case of the rich keeping the poor down. But I agree, it's not a great situation.

At August 4, 2009 at 1:15 PM, Blogger Paige said...

Totally agreed. Isn't everyone keeping the poor down? But, unfortunately, the poor don't have the same kind of agency within a capitalist society. Certain practical politics come at a price that not everyone can afford.

At May 24, 2010 at 5:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have gone through your site information and it is the sae oppertunity that i was looking for thr facilities,
the process that what you are offering , are perfectely matched to my expection, very soon you will get
responce from my side

online job


Post a Comment

<< Home