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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Reclaim power as a consumer, hold companies accountable

Nora McKoy
DEBATED DOLLAR. Individual buying power can help enact corporate and political change. Make consumer decisions based on personal values. “It’s up to the consumer whether their money goes towards the sustainable or unsustainable,” McKoy writes.

A new T-shirt or lipgloss, and a coffee three times a week. These seemingly meaningless purchases may hold more value than we give them credit for. Every time three or four dollars is spent towards an ice cream or cappuccino, where does it go?

A common mentality for consumers in this day and age is that a few dollars doesnt have an impact in the grand scheme of things. But this ideology is harmful and incorrect. Every amount counts when it comes to spending money. But it’s up to the consumer whether their money goes towards the sustainable or unsustainable.

Unfortunately, large corporations seem to be getting the most money right now. Data from Consumer Edge showed that the multi billion dollar fast-fashion industry grew 2% in 2023. This data shows that the fast-fashion powerhouse, Shein, grew its revenue by 20% last year as well. This increase in success for this industry is disheartening considering how well-known its harmful impact on the environment is as well as its lack of ethical and moral practices especially when it comes to its labor force.

And the fashion industry isn’t the only place where problematic buying happens. An article from Harvard Business Review showed that the gap between small and large corporations has continued to widen. In 2019, 60-65% of small corporations reported annual losses while only 10-15% of larger corporations did. This shows that only a third of small businesses were able to stay financially afloat, while large corporations were doing better than ever.

But why is this happening and how does it stop? Large corporations continue to find ways to make the most money possible. Whether through deceptive marketing tactics or low-quality materials, large corporations like Shein, Amazon, Nestle, etc. manipulate buyers into thinking they need their newest products and fuel overconsumption.

But the buyer isn’t completely helpless or blame-free. Often, even if the morally wrong practices of the company are known, people will still purchase from them out of convenience. The money saved from low wages and cheap supplies allows companies to sell items for the cheapest prices. However, purchasing cheaper items is often more expensive in the long run due to the short lifespan of mass-produced and low-quality items. This puts people who have no choice but to purchase items at a lower cost from megacorps in an especially bad position. Consumers also might gravitate towards mega corporations due to their ability to put out the latest trends at an alarming rate. This also leaves the buyer with a low-quality item that won’t be functional or “in style” in a few month’s time.

And even though these changes may seem insignificant, past examples have proven these actions quite the opposite.

— Nora McKoy

There are sustainable alternatives available. Shopping small and locally prevents money flowing towards big corporations and fuels small ones. Thrifting and buying second-hand stops the cycle of fast fashion in its tracks. And even though these changes may seem insignificant, past examples have proven these actions quite the opposite. In 2020 Canada Goose agreed to stop buying fur from trappers by 2022 after PETA’s decade and a half of protesting and consumers boycotting. Another example of buyers power is when in July in 2021 Ben & Jerry’s agreed to stop selling their ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.. This change came after Palestinian activists and allies alike boycotted and protested the brand.

When it comes to what someone does with their money, personal values should be a factor. It isn’t always easy to find ways to shop without giving money to megacorps. Small businesses can be expensive due to the small batch production and higher quality of materials which makes this option inaccessible to those who shopped at large corporations due to their financial situation. This places extra responsibility on consumers who do have the financial capability to purchase items ethically. Accessibility can also be an issue when it comes to shopping sustainably. Sometimes plus-sized shoppers are unable to find clothes at more ethical institutions and so are left with alternatives. With all these challenges and restrictions in mind, anything can be done to fuel change. Large corporations continue to grow and develop and every consumer-conscious decision can help the cause. Take back the power from the megacorps and own consumer strength.

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About the Contributor
Nora McKoy
Nora McKoy, A&E Editor
My name is Nora McKoy (she/her). I’m an A&E editor for RubicOnline. At school, I’m involved in CAS, and Sophomore Class Leadership Council. I love to watch mystery TV shows. I can be reached at [email protected].

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