My fellow blogger, Shawn, over at Kowai, whom I find very inspirational, has a page on his site that details his personal boycotts. I was happy to see that someone else is involved in their own personal boycotts, and it made me feel less alone in my consumer activism. I think that we are fairly helpless in this capitalistic chess game, but the power that we do have comes from our wallets. We can write letters to these companies all day, but the most effective voice we have is in not buying their products (although a combination of the two is probably the best option of all). I've been meaning to share my personal boycotts with my readers for a while, but I keep forgetting. So, before I forget again, here is a list, in no particular order, of the companies that I despise; a short description of their transgressions; and links to more details.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (and Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride). This is tough for me, because I love their chicken, but I cannot, in good conscience, eat here. The horrors their suppliers inflict on the chickens that we eat is unspeakable, and I cannot address it without tears. Watching the workers throw birds against walls and purposely step on them, watching birds crippled by the sheer weight of their own hormone-ridden bodies try to walk, these things sicken me beyond any craving I might have. It infuriates me that other fast food corporations are willing to make the changes that address the most basic living conditions of the chickens, and yet KFC is resistant, while spinning a web of deceit for its customers to make them think they are concerned with animal welfare. I started this about 3 years ago, and I have slipped once that I can recall.
Wal-Mart. They are the epitome of everything that is wrong in America, in my opinion. As long as they are paragons of corporate greed, taking advantage of government subsidies while raking in billions, encouraging their workers to go on welfare rather than pay them decent wages, and importing a majority of their goods from countries where the workers are abused and underpaid except on inspection days, they remain at the top of my list. Yes, they are making some progress in presenting a "greener" image, and yes, they deserve some credit for that. But it will take a lot more than changing some light bulbs and printing their bazillion-page reports on recycled paper to counteract the years of abuses.
Exxon. Evil beyond comprehension. They continue to pay "scientists" to deny global warming. They are the only one of the Big Oil companies that remains in Arctic Power (a single-issue lobbying group), happy to drain ANWR of its precious resources, after BP, ConocoPhillips, and ChevronTexaco have dropped out. Exxon has also refused to pay any of the $4.5 billion in punitive damages it owes to fishermen, natives, and others affected by the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, despite posting record profits in recent years.
Shell Oil. This article really opened my eyes to the atrocities that Shell Oil has been part of. They have essentially bribed corrupt Nigerian government with loads of cash, taken the Nigerians' land and oil, importing American workers instead of willing & able natives, and are raping the land daily in the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. 1n 1995, nine anti-Shell activists were sentenced to death by their government, and Shell later admitted to having given money to that same government.
Proctor & Gamble. As long as they are still mercilessly testing their products on animals and treating them like disposable litter, they will not get my money. The more I ponder animal testing, the more offended I am as a consumer. Ostensibly, they are testing for the safety of the consumer; however, if you think about it, that's totally false. They are not testing for long-lasting, truly dangerous and detrimental conditions that may be caused by their products, which are what we should be most concerned with; they are testing for short-term reactions (the shampoo burns when you put it in your eyes... use common sense, smart ones!) that are most likely to bring lawsuits against them. So, these tests are not done for our benefit, but to cover their asses.
Feel free to join me in boycotting these bastards and in signing petitions and writing letters to let them know why we are boycotting them.