Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shopping with a Conscience

Today I got an email from the International Labor Rights Forum announcing the 2009 Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide. Check it out, if you like. I also inadvertently found Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping - quirky and kind of weird website. But I think I agree philosophically. Getting back to the Labor Rights Forum, I think I support the unionization of workers in developing countries. In the US, where labor laws are strictly enforced, I think the benefit is debatable. Actually, I think that there are situations where unionization is a smart choice from the business' perspective, and I think there are a lot of times when it's actually detrimental to workers to unionize. Anyway, in other countries where labor laws aren't as strict, unionization may provide workers with more rights than the government will. However, what are the chances that a government that won't or can't enforce labor laws will protect workers' rights to unionize?

If I sound tentative, it's because I'm not sure I've heard the other side of the argument yet. In other news I sent a number of emails off to various organizations asking them to change this or that bad environmental or social justice practice. Responsible Shopper really is a great resource. One of the first (and only) companies to get back to me was Target. Their policy sounded a little public-relations oriented, but at least they took the time to respond to me. I sent a follow-up email asking for more specifics; we'll see what happens.

I also sent an email to The Lantern asking my standard question about green information - it was actually a slightly modified version of this post. The Green Lantern is a column written by a guy named Jacob on, and although my query didn't get answered in his column, he did send me a nice, seemingly personal, note back:

Thanks for your question -- it's a good one. Unfortunately, we still don't have much in the way of generalizable environmental info available for consumers. (In places like the UK, they do a far better job of this, although any ratings systems there are pretty nascent.) However, I'll keep your question in mind, and perhaps consider a column about the limited sources of information that are available about companies and products.

Your word of the day is nascent - "just beginning to develop; in the process of emerging, being born, or starting to develop" (from the Encarta Dictionary in Word).


megan said...

Jared, have you read "Irresistable Revolution"? I think you might be very interested...i'm reading it right now (borrowed it from my roomie Sara) should check it out.

Jared said...

Hi megan! I have had a copy of Irresistible Revolution since being in University in Calgary - but for some reason I haven't been able to get into it. Truthfully I've only tried picking it up a few times, but still, no excuse! Are you enjoying it? Favorite part/idea/quote so far?