Saturday, February 8, 2014

I'm losing track of who to boycott

I first became aware of the idea of boycotting when I was in high school. I learned that Gillette engaged in animal testing, so I made it a point not to buy Gillette products. Today, the list of companies engaging in animal testing is shorter than it used to be but is still plenty long. When I was in college, every time I had the opportunity to write a research paper, I chose antivivisectionism as my topic. Well, except for that one time when I had to write a paper on Victorian lace for a literature class. I might fall asleep just thinking about it. But seriously, I knew about alternatives to animal testing (from my research) 20+ years ago. I'm betting there are even better alternatives now. And really, how many chemicals have been left untested at this point? 

I don't have a lot of money to throw around but it makes sense to me that I shouldn't give my money to companies that engage in sucky practices.  However, it's become profoundly challenging to keep track of what and who to boycott. Some entities are easy to remember, of course. For example, I am involved in a boycott of the Shrine Circus locally. I think everyone should boycott every circus that features animals, but that's just my opinion.

I remember years ago one of the major gas companies got in trouble because it employed no women and few minorities in its executive positions. Was it Texaco? I can't seem to recall. My stad jokingly called it "White Guy Gas" for a long time. 

I'm currently aware that I am supposed to boycott the following:

Barilla because in 2013 the chairman stated that Barilla's pastas are best enjoyed by families with no . . . gay people in them. I've been buying a store brand ever since.

SeaWorld because it engages in all sorts of horrible practices involving the enslavement of marine species of all kinds. What they do to orcas is particularly heinous. It's a good thing I can't really afford to go to SeaWorld anyway. When I was (briefly) a marine biology major in college, I remember someone telling me that when SeaWorld builds a new facility, they actually factor in a certain percentage of the animals dying (when they are "installed" in the new tanks and whatnot). It's no small feat to duplicate the exact environment that a seahorse or a dolphin came from. (So maybe people should stop trying???)

Lululemon, which makes high-end yoga clothing, because the guy in charge has publicly stated that fat people should not even think about wearing Lululemon stuff. I read an article that exposed how Lululemon employees are actually instructed to hide larger sizes in the back. And by larger, they mean anything over a 6/8. My yoga pants are from Old Navy so I'm all set, I think.

Chik-Fil-A because its head honcho is a raging homophobe.

Walmart because it does not pay its employees a decent wage and discourages the formation of unions. 

Now there are calls to boycott the Winter Olympics, currently underway in Sochi, Russia. You may have noticed that I am not what you'd call a sports nut, so I don't tend to lose any sleep over sporting events anyway. I may watch a bit of figure skating, and that'll be the extent of it. However, I am heartsick just thinking about how LGBT athletes must feel, knowing that they are staying in a country which has basically outlawed their sexual orientation. It seems like for every country on the planet that could not care less what people do with their private parts, there are two other countries that care about it so much they pass legislation dictating what combinations of private parts are acceptable.

Should we (the U.S.) have boycotted the Olympics?  I don't know enough about it to understand the issue fully. I do know that host countries are selected at least seven years in advance and that there are lots of politics that go into it. I'm just not sure that my refusal to watch the Olympics would have much of an impact.

The more I think about boycotts and who/what I should boycott, I just keep coming back to the same thought: why can't everyone just do the right God-damned thing so that I don't have to worry about it so much?


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