There is no ethical consumption in a capitalist economy

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people sharing lists of companies not to support because of various unethical practices: testing on animals, using sweatshop labor, paying disabled workers less and contributing to harmful political campaigns.

I have chosen to avoid supporting certain companies, made several lifestyle changes to be more eco-friendly and no longer eat meat because I feel it’s unethical.

However, it seems the more research I do, the more it seems like every company does things that are immoral or conflict with my personal values.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I see these lists because I’m not sure where I can eat or shop that align with my values.

Many “fast fashion” mall stores have unethical labor practices and are bad for the environment.

I’m aware that this is wrong, but as a college student, I can’t afford to spend a ton of money on clothing. Stores like that become the only ones that are practical for me.

I don’t want to support things that I disagree with, but I also can’t spend $30 on a T-shirt.

One of the most common affordable alternatives to “fast fashion” stores is thrifting, but some of the largest thrift stores are problematic.

Salvation Army is infamously homophobic, and Goodwill was recently found to be paying disabled workers under minimum wage in some locations.

While there are small local thrift stores, these chains are the most accessible, and it’s unfortunate to be stuck choosing the lesser of two evils.

Everywhere you try to eat or shop is problematic for one reason or another.

I’ve heard so many people say, “There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism” as an excuse to avoid even trying to make better

choices. I understand where they’re coming from, but it feels like a cop out.

We can’t control the fact that corporations do bad things, but shouldn’t we try to be ethical when we can?

I worked at a popular fast food chain this summer and was treated very poorly there.

I was denied lunch breaks during eight to nine hour shifts and was yelled at when I had low blood sugar. I would get too anxious to sleep, and I woke up every day lled with dread.

A lot of fast food workers have had similar experiences. It’s a bad industry to work
in, but that’s not to say everyone should completely give it up.

The best approach would be for those who are physically and financially able to make certain lifestyle changes to try to do so.

If you can afford a more expensive pair of jeans that was produced without labor cruelty, buy them.

But if you don’t have money for expensive jeans and can only afford “fast fashion” jeans or can only shop at a Goodwill or Salvation Army, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Every day we are faced with difficult decisions as a consumer.

Ethical products are not accessible to everyone, but it is on the people who can afford them to buy them.

Some people may need to use plastic straws to drink or other disposable products because they have a disability that could impair motor skills, but people who are able-bodied should skip out on plastic waste when they can.

It is absolutely on companies and producers to pay their employees properly, give them proper working conditions, use production methods that don’t damage the environment or create unnecessary waste and not harm living creatures.

This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to mindlessly consume, but until ethical goods and services are available, we shouldn’t treat someone like a bad person for not always being able to get such things either.

Small boycotts and lifestyle changes are helpful, but they are also not the solution to a system that thrives on exploitation. I wish I knew what was.


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