opinion

COLUMN: Conscious consumption is important



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An herb and vegetable garden grows in St. Helena, California. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

As the planet fast approaches her fiery end, so too, has the internet been ablaze over climate change recently. While people bicker over veganism, straws and on the worst days, the mere existence of human changes to the environment, precious time slips by.

The fact of the matter is that individual lifestyle choices do make a difference, but we are only a fraction of the problem. The blame overwhelmingly lies with large corporations. In fact, since 1988, 100 companies have been responsible for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

This isn’t to say that going vegetarian is futile. In fact, research has found that western countries need to cut beef consumption by 90% in order to avoid climate breakdown.

But even if ordering a veggie wrap instead of a hamburger produces a considerably smaller carbon footprint, which it does, this pales in comparison to corporations’ environmental impact.

It might seem as though there is no way to combat conglomerates with seemingly endless resources. In a sense, there isn’t. Our society is built to cater to ever growing businesses, even if the cost is our existence.

But you have control over what you buy. Your dollar is a vote, and you should spend it wisely.

Opt for smaller and local options instead of multinational corporations when you can. Do your research when it comes to what you buy. 

If you want to know the politics behind your purchase, Buycott is an app that tells you just that. By selecting campaigns you support or oppose and scanning an item’s barcode, you can see if it aligns with your personal beliefs. The app also offers alternative products to those you want to avoid.

Of course, not everyone has the funds to shop ethically, as it often comes at a higher cost. Freedom of consumerism has become a privilege in our society. This means the burden of change falls on those who can quite literally afford it.

If you can afford to support environmentally conscious business practices, do it. But don’t shame those who cannot.

It’s not a blame game. No one should be canceled because they bought a Tyson product — even if when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, Tyson is one of the largest sources in the world.

It’s about educating ourselves, educating each other and speaking up. It’s hard to find the time to sit down and voice your complaints to a corporation.

But social media opens doors that were closed before. Now, you can call out a business for practices you don’t agree with in front of the world.

We need to hold corporations accountable however we can. If enough people tweet at a company, they can damage their brand. And it’s the risk of losing profits that will inspire change.

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