I’ve been thinking about social awareness. I never thought I was more conscious about humanity, the earth, animal life, etc than other people, but incidents have occurred that lead me to believe that I am. I do a lot of research about companies, businesses, stores, products, etc so that I can make choices that are in tune with my values and beliefs. I’ve noticed that very few of my friends do the same. They all shop, eat, travel, etc with no regard to how their choices affect the world, and affect themselves.
I recently began to do more in depth research and I realize that I have been buying products and shopping at businesses that have unethical business practices. Now that I know this, I plan to change what and where I buy. When I mention this to people they don’t seem interested. Most people that I know want to do what is easiest, cheapest, and in their best interest at the moment. I don’t understand this.
Take Walmart for example. I don’t shop at Walmart because I don’t agree with their business practices. The reasons that people shop at Walmart, in my opinion, are:
1. They don’t have the luxury of shopping elsewhere. Either there are no other stores in their area because Walmart has shut them down, or they live in a rural area. Perhaps they don’t make enough money to spend on socially conscious goods from reputable businesses. Shopping at Walmart is cheap and there are many, many people in this country (speaking about the US) who cannot afford to shop elsewhere or who have to travel to get to other stores. I don’t judge anyone who shops there if they are in this category.
2. They are unaware that Walmart is practicing unethical business – in their products, with their employees, with the labor producing the products, etc. I would not judge anyone in this category either; most people don’t do research prior to shopping.
But I’d like to believe that if people become knowledgeable about Walmart and if they can afford to shop elsewhere they would. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
This past week when I was at the beach with my friends there was a Walmart in town. I happened to mention a couple of times about my disdain of Walmart, and my friend asked me what I have against people who shop at Walmart. I told her I have nothing against the people who shop there, I have a problem with the store itself. I explained to her some of the reasons why I am opposed to Walmart. She said she shops there and she likes it. I don’t think my explanation will change her mind.
This same friend recently got a puppy. I found out that she bought it at a pet store. I asked her why she got it at a pet store rather than from a reputable breeder, or from the humane society and she said she wanted this particular breed and there are no breeders in our area, and this place seemed very nice. I told her that the puppy’s mother lived in a puppy mill and told her about the conditions of puppy mills. I knew it was too late for her to change where she got her puppy from, but perhaps if anyone asked her she could tell them a better way to get a puppy. She seemed upset, and told me that this pet store gave her “papers” and her puppy has “parents” and is “registered”. Well, all dogs have parents, and anyone can get papers. I asked her why she didn’t talk to me about getting a puppy because she knows I did a lot of research before I got my dog. She said she didn’t think of it. She asked me if I thought her puppy was ok and healthy and I said of course I thought he was, and he is.
Then last week we were talking about that conversation. She said she was upset when I told her a pet store is not the best place to get a puppy, but then she realized, “Oh, it’s just Harriet telling me this stuff” and then she felt better. Like I’m such an extremist and my viewpoints are so outlandish that she shouldn’t get upset by anything I say. I didn’t mean to make her upset, I just wanted her to know some facts about the situation.
My other friend was telling me about someone we know who goes through people’s refrigerators telling them about all the bad things in there and how either they are bad for their health, they are inhumane, or bad for the environment. My friend doesn’t invite her over anymore. I would never do that, I only explain my reasons and my research if anyone asks. Sometimes, however, things slip out, like my Walmart comments. I do have to be more careful because people think I’m judging or having a holier than thou attitude.
I guess I don’t understand why people do the things they do if they know their actions have repercussions. Everything we do or buy sends waves throughout the world, from 8 year old child laborers in Thailand, to cattle on a factory farm in Iowa. Why do people seem to not care, to only want to do what is cheapest, easiest, and quickest for themselves?
Are you socially conscious and how do you think you compare with others? Do you talk about your feelings with other people and how do they respond?