I try to be an ethical shopper. Not just for my own sense of peace but for the greater good. I know that I am not perfect and I do not hold myself up as an example but I do feel a sense of responsibility.
But I am finding in the way our retail society is structured, that is very challenging to balance all the scales and to reconcile all of my interests with one another.
Let me give you an example.
Currently there is a huge nationwide boycott on against Target (and Best Buy) due to their funding of anti-LGTB rights politicians.
I fully support this boycott and have done zero shopping in there since it began. For the past several months I have spent my money in other places when I've need an item. Not that I'm desperate but I loved Target so it's taken some adjustment to not default to shopping there. I mean, I remember the first time I went into a Target store in college and haven't stepped foot in a KMart or Walmart since then. So to go somewhere else, I hope, has been impactful, especially if others are doing the same.
But I'm still tempted.
I was in the store on Friday night (I have a Target card and had to make a payment. This pains me.) and for some reason decided to walk around. I probably justified it in my mind as "looking for inspiration" that I would source somewhere else, but more likely I missed walking around the store and seeing what new cute things were there.
I bypassed all the clothes but did go into the tights section. In 10 minutes I had 3 pairs of tights that I "really needed" and they were so cheap and right there. What harm would come from spending $15 on some tights?
I made it around the store, peeking at the Halloween stuff, cosmetics and stationary, and then put the tights back. I left the store without buying anything. I knew it would be easy to get tights some where else and I will be doing that.
Yeah! Good work and will power, right? Well... not so fast...
I'm in another quandary and I'm going to use a particular example. It does seem ridiculous to give give this so much emphasis but bear with me, I'm hoping for a larger discussion here.
I've been looking for and wanting a black patent purse for over a year. Being somewhat particular about what I had in mind, I haven't bought anything yet. I wanted a medium sized bag, simple lines, minimal hardware and cute. Ideally, I wouldn't have to spend a lot. Oh, yeah, and not be a knockoff as far as I can tell or be made of animal materials.
Got all that? No wonder I haven't found anything.
Then I saw the black patent satchel by Mulberry for Target.
Yep, it ticked all the boxes, even the materials and price. I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars at Mulberry, not that I cared about the brand, just the design. So it's hitting most of my monetary, desire and ethical boxes. Except one.
Sigh. So what to do? As I mentioned before, I'm not aspiring to be perfect but rather to do the best that I can. I know that no business is going to be perfect, just like I'm not and I'm not looking for absolution. Of course I can live with out the purse which would solve the dilemma. I haven't decided either way if I would get it or not. All of these factor are still being weighed in my mind. I thought this would be an interesting discussion because I'm curious how you make your own choices. Do you give yourself a green light if an item has more pros than cons? Or are you more absolute?
Apartment Therapy has a good article on The Ethics of Shopping Cheap which is a whole other layer to shopping criteria.