Shoppers love a deal! And why not? Shouldn't we try to "shop smart"? Isn't thrift a virtue? The trouble is that shopping smart may not be such a smart thing to do. Shopping on price is often a sure way to support an unethical, unjust, and unfair business. In a competitive market, the one with the competitive advantage is frequently the one who figures out how to sell a product cheaper than her or his competitors. In this way, it has been argued for quite some time that the competitive nature of capitalism fosters ingenuity, efficiency, and healthy competition. If you are looking for a great deal, this whole system makes a great deal of sense. Maybe... or maybe not.
Have you ever purchased one of those Green & Black Organic Fair Trade chocolate bars? I sure have...usually for my wife when I sense she may be a little cranky! I remember the first time I bought one of those bars. I thought, "oh how wonderful, I can support a small company doing great things!" I don't know what you look for when purchasing products, but as you might guess from the work we do at Silent Springs, we work really hard to support small-scale artisans. Well, my reaction to Green & Black typifies the widespread misinformation on which we operate as consumers. Green & Black is owned by Cadbury. Cadbury is owned by Nestle. Nestle is NOT a small company, and my opinion of Nestle is anything but positive.
My nine year old son went all out for fathers day. He spent a substantial percentage of his savings to buy me a PhD Pocket Disc from Silent Springs. The discs are essentially cotton frisbee-like toys perfect for a bit of fun on a hike. We tried ours out on our afternoon stroll yesterday and had a blast with it. As I tossed around the disc I began to think more about the origin of the discs and what motivated us to sell them in the first place.