December 19, 2004
Buying Blue (or even Green)
BuyBlue.org is a fairly new organization whose goal is to inform progressively-minded consumers which companies are more "blue" in their practices - the idea being that we can direct our consumer spending accordingly. At the moment, the criteria for BuyBlue's lists of Blue and Red companies is what political contributions were made during the most recent election cycle. Eventually the group will expand its criteria to take into account other factors. From their FAQ:
Are political contributions the right way to go?The group's first goal was to generate an initial list in time for holiday purchases - not surprisingly, a lot of the big box stores are quite red. Still, I wasn't thrilled to see that Target and Amazon.com were on the red side.
We get asked this question often. Most of the time someone is writing us to say that corporation X is classified as blue/red and because of their actions with labor, the environment, minorities and other issues they really should be on the other side.
We realize that basing our Blue Christmas list on political contributions alone is a flawed approach. Our future vision is to provide you with a comprehensive picture of a corporation which will include things like environmental policy, labor policy, minority issues, gender issues, etc. However, we wanted to get something out to you in time for Christmas and political information is far easier to come by than some of the aforementioned items. Look at it as a first step we are taking towards corporate transparency in order to arm you with good information to make your purchases.
Of course the issue isn't just which retailers to frequent with one's business. It's which companies to support through buying their products. Ultimately, it goes beyond simply becoming better-informed; it's about becoming a better consumer. What I need and what I want are separate concerns; simply because I can buy something doesn't mean that I should. I am surrounded by an overabundance of things; paring down would be far better for my peace of mind (and my budget) than acquiring more.
This isn't going to be an overnight process for me. (We are talking about a girl who has a ridiculously long wishlist at a certain online vendor, after all.) But now I have a starting place: how and where to wield my wallet.