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Be Careful WHAT You Consume

One of the charity websites I want to develop (I presently do not have the finances for this, but if anyone one would like to help, I can certainly promise to set up a separate fund for this) with the help of my inexpensive programmers (strategically located in "poorer" countries of the world) is some central database where people could post their comments and do searches regarding every company in the world. It would also require research and volunteers to make sure that any accusations or compliments are founded, but I believe such a website could go a long way in terms of forcing companies to behave responsibly. In the US there is a saying that the consumer is king, because of the dollar they hold in their hand. Well this power can be tapped to force companies to act more responsibly. Imagine you wanted to buy a pair of sneakers and went to this website (hopefully very well known and used by everybody), and did a search on the three brands you were thinking of buying: brand A, B and C. Brand A was the cheapest, but through this website you determined that their environmental and employee rating was the worst, and you read stories about the various abuses they have committed to bring you, the important consumer, that lower price. Then you compared the other sneakers B and C, and decided that, for your budget, you will do a good deed, spend a little extra (like when buying free range cattle as opposed to factory produced ones) and buy the B sneakers instead of the A ones (C had the best rating but you decided it was too much for you).

The problem is that no such site exists (at least I did not find any) and for every purchase made by the western consumer, they are not aware of what it took to make that product. Whether it forced a tribe of natives in Bangladesh, who lived on their soil for centuries, to move to some ghetto so that some corporation could mine their sacred land and make tennis balls out of it. Or that the small nimble fingers of Chinese 6 year olds living among filth were used to piece together some small machinery, the children held at gunpoint and fed stinky oatmeal every day, just enough for subsistence, and forced to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Would you want to buy these products if you knew this was the case (and these things certainly take place in this new global system)? Perhaps a lot of people wouldn't care and would go ahead and buy it, just to save money so they could buy some other worthless piece of junk, but many others would change their purchase decisions, which would affect the profits of these corporations, and force them to change their practices.

The world is globalising. Companies are moving their manufacturing bases to other parts of the world, where they might get away with cost saving atrocities and environmental damages they could never get away with in their western place of birth. Corrupt governments in third world countries can accept bribes from these companies to enable the exploiting of their population. All these things take place, mostly due to pressure these companies face to compete, survive, and reduce costs. Because the final price is practically the only thing we as consumers see.

But because this database website has not been created yet, below I will provide some links you can research separately to help you in your responsible purchase decisions:


  • fair trade vs free trade

  • corporate watch