• Talia Basma

Boycotting: A Lifestyle in Corporate America

Updated: Jan 5

It started on May 18th, 2015. California was in a desperate drought. I was sixteen and had learned Nestlé was taking water from natural springs throughout California. We were on the brink of completely no water when I stumbled upon a petition sharing how this conglomerate was bottling water (with an expired permit) and selling it to the masses. I hadn't heard anything about it, but when I kept digging, I found so much dirt on Nestle, I was drowning it in. I had no idea what I could do other than signing the petition, but then I realized I could boycott. Boycotting seems so silly on a small scale. They are losing one customer, which is maybe $1,000 dollars of my life if I was an avid Nestlé fan. It's not a lot of money for a company as large as they are. Nevertheless, I've persisted.  It was so surprising at first because they owned so many things. Nestlé owns more than just water bottles and chocolate milk. They own brands like L'Oreal and Body Shop. They sell Kit Kat and Rolo chocolates. Things I used to buy regularly were no longer an option, and it was frustrating, but I eventually found alternatives that worked out just as well, if not better. I will not lie, I have used a couple of Nestlé products in the past 5 years, some without even realizing, other times just due to circumstance. Not everyone has the luxury to boycott as I've come to realize. Nestlé sells cheap products. If you have to pick between a $1 water and a $1.50 water, you're probably going to pick the former. It's just common sense for people who count their money. I may not swim in cash but I'm lucky enough to have some wiggle room to pick the ethical but more expensive version of an item. Sometimes, however, I just don't buy anything at all.  Over the course of the years, I've added many things to my list*. As I pay more attention to news and such the list, unfortunately, grows. A friend had mentioned to me about five years ago that Driscoll was mistreating and underpaying their workers. It seems to be a cycle with Driscoll that you can learn more about here or with a quick Google search. Since the day I learned about it, I refused to buy from them, leaving me raspberry-less for two years when I was in Davis for school (horrible times).  It was because of one of Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act episodes that I decided to quit fast fashion. I would see cute clothes on my Instagram feed and simply not buy anything anymore. More ethically created clothing is about twice as expensive as fast fashion, so I had decided to make do with my current closet. That is huge chunks of money actually saved on my part. Now, when I shop it's way more intentional and permanent because I especially like using the Good On You app and looking into the company more. I no longer think "Cute, I could wear that with this" and then impulsively buy like before. If I want an outfit item, I think about how long I'll use it, how often I'll need it, and if I can find that item from a more sustainable company.  I decided to start 2020 with boycotting Amazon. I have refused to support Jeff Bezos for several reasons that you can read more about herehere, or here. Really there are a lot of places that you can find about why Amazon, as convenient as it may be, sucks. There was something empowering about boycotting them. For the first few months, I would instinctively look up what I needed on Amazon and have to look up other places to buy. It was harder for some items than for others, but it's amazing how many small businesses have what Amazon is selling, and I'd rather pay a tad extra knowing the money is going to deserving people and not heartless corporations that don't even properly pay their workers.  In the wake of George Floyd, I've found myself not only finding alternatives to these places but trying to especially buy from Black-owned businesses. Instead of just Google searching "store that sells X" I now type "Black-owned stores that sell X".  If I can't find one that's Black-owned, I settle for any type of small-owned business because it is my utmost belief that it is legally and physically impossible for large companies to be 100% decent. They are, by their own definition, trying to make money. They are okay with cutting a few corners for the sake of that extra money. One company I had admired officially proved that a few months back. The company being Ben and Jerry's. I love(d) their ice cream and their political stances (in regards to American government and BLM) only to find out that they are totally complicit in Israel's militant occupation. Should this article get a lot of attention, I want to point out that I have no problem with individual Jews or Israelis but rather the violent government in charge of Palestinian genocide.  You might not agree with my choices for brands and companies boycotted, but I just feel it necessary to emphasize the self-empowerment that comes with boycotting. I give myself room for leniency, but also don't let these companies bully me into buying from them. (Bully as in they own so many different companies that it's almost impossible to avoid them.) If I am with other people who aren't boycotting, I don't force myself to not participate or not use whatever they're offering (especially if they aren't aware I am boycotting X thing to begin with). However, I do try to minimize and let people in my life know that generally, I am boycotting X company/brand for so and so reason(s).  Boycotting might sound hard and I'll admit it's not easy, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Seriously, there is no time like the present to boycott companies that abuse their power and influence.  Are there any companies you are currently boycotting? Considering boycotting? 

*If you are interested in my list of boycotted brands and companies feel free to message me as the companies mentioned above are not my comprehensive list (not even close, unfortunately). 

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