Monday, August 23, 2010

Boycotting Shopping

The recent boycott of Target has reminded me of how difficult and pointless I used to think shopping boycotts were.

Back before I became a non-consumer I considered information about corporate misdeeds overwhelming. It seemed like every company was doing something it shouldn't. I mean I couldn't just STOP SHOPPING, could I? So I might as well just keep shopping everywhere. They're all bad, but what can I do?

And then one day the lightbulb turned on and I realized that yes, in fact, I could just STOP shopping. So I did.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that you SHOULD boycott Target. That's your own business and you have to base that decision on your own political, moral, and ethical beliefs. I will say that, in my personal opinion as a bleeding heart liberal, I think Target may have cuter clothes than Walmart, but it ain't much better from a progressive politics point of view. Target's recent political donation was one instance in a larger stream of troubling actions.

As I said, my opinion on Target is based on my liberal bias, a position I certainly don't expect everyone reading this blog to share. However, if YOU want to boycott Target, but aren't sure if you can, well then keep reading.

Because I am here to tell you that you most certainly CAN boycott Target.

"How?" you may be wondering. "How can I boycott TARGET? They have everything. Especially cute purses. And they are so conveniently located in the urban/suburban environment where I live, unlike Wal-Mart which is easy to boycott because it's not located anywhere near me!"

It's true that Target has everything. It's very true that they have cute purses. Nonetheless, I promise you that if you want to, you can do it.

Here are my tips for avoiding Target:

1) Stop shopping. Okay, kidding. I know that it's not totally realistic to expect everyone to stop shopping. But seriously, it can be done. Just ask Megan. Or Colin. Or Katy. Or even me! Even if you don't stop shopping you can seriously limit your shopping. I typically don't buy something without several weeks (sometimes months) of consideration. You will be amazed by how much you don't actually NEED. Like that cute purse.

2) Shop Craigslist. And thrift stores. And eBay. And Amazon Marketplace. You will be amazed by how many awesome used things you can find for super cheap. Even cute purses!

3) Use (some) of the money you've saved from buying less and buying used to support local businesses. The sad truth is big box stores like Target can often afford to charge much less than your local mom and pop. But if you're saving money by consuming less, you can also afford to pay a little more on the few things you DO end up buying.

4) Do your homework. Are there big companies with good practices who you are willing to support? For example, Costco has been profiled as a company that is good to its employees. If so, shop there.

5) Don't go there. Or near there. Avoid temptation by not driving past Target every day. Out of sight, out of mind.

As for me, yeah, I probably won't shop at Target. Although I do love their purses.


Chile said...

The local clothes consignment places here have a zillion purses. I can't tell you if they're cute or not because I haven't owned a purse in years and can't accessorize to save my life. But, there are alternatives beyond the thrift stores for the non-shopper coveting a cute purse. ;-)

Ivy said...

I would also add Etsy as a great resource for a surprising number of things. You're supporting independent crafters, and while you are going to pay more than you would for something mass produced cheaply, you're going to pay less than a a lot of local boutiques because there's none of the overhead that comes with a brick and mortar store.

Plus, you can often get custom orders or things tweaked to your specifications.

Katy said...

I can respect people's decissions to not shop at certian stores for whatever reason. I do get it.

I don't do a lot of shoping, because I don't have the money. So yeah, I'm kind of stuck with the Targets of the world if I can't find something elsewhere.

While I try to avoid chain stores when possible, I think we have to realize that they are probably all equally shady in different ways. For instance, Costco maybe good to their empolyees, but they also refuse to disclose who they buy their merchiandise from which to me is really odd...

Lee said...

I stopped shopping on a regular basis about three years ago, and haven't missed it.

We've found that now we manage easily on one income, where before we were struggling on two.

Another interesting issue is now I get bomb/explosive checked every time I board a plane.

I think its because now I have a "doesn't quite fit" look because my clothes and hair and everything else are just that bit out of date.

But am I happier? Yes.

Sometimes I'm reminded of my non-shoppingness, like yesterday, when I went into the city after a rehearsal (singing) and after a half hour went home bored, having bought nothing. Nothing in the shops interests me any more, unless I actually need something.

But I guess instead of boycotting shopping, I've just boycotted buying crap. It was the book "Your Money Or Your Life" which changed me.

Anonymous said...

I believe owns Target/are the same company, as well as! But, as much as I am definitely FOR same-sex marriage, I don't think I could ever stop shopping Amazon!

On a side note, I found this blog because I am trying to reduce my spending and am looking online for tips! I recently quit my full-time job to go back to school and I am having a hard time not having disposable income to shop with! Thanks for the inspiration :)