Op Ed: General Conscious Consumerism

By Kimberly Adams

I’ve noticed a lot of fellow Santa Barbarans wearing Patagonia jackets, and a few that use the brand’s backpacks/bags. They may not be aware that this company has dealt with a couple huge controversies in the last two years. One of them concerned the inhumane treatment of sheep that were skinned and mutilated, while still alive, during their wool production process. Another addressed the occurrence of human trafficking in relation to imports by Patagonia.

Being a proud Santa Barbaran who has been eco and animal-friendly in the non-hipster way for as long as I can remember, I wonder if any others pay attention to the manufacturing procedures, locations, etc. (so, the politics involved in a brand’s merchandise.) I know that some of us do the best we can by supporting the farmers market, recycling, reducing waste, among other proactive decisions.

Conscious decisions like researching a bit about a company or reading articles regularly can inform a person about the behind-the-scenes goings-on of a manufacturer. This lessens an individual’s ignorance and increases the level of informed, educated choices he or she will make. I also believe that journalists and reporters have the responsibility to spread accurate and helpful news, which includes uncovering or circulating valid information about any topic, especially what we spend our money on.

Ultimately, because financial gains reach those who found or manage companies like Patagonia, I am of the opinion that protesting can begin in little ways such as discontinuing use and support of certain products. In turn, I would hope that the companies will change their ways to demonstrate their level of maturity and understanding of consumer preferences (like treating humans, animals, and the planet humanely and with the utmost respect.) This isn’t something that should be rare and difficult to implement. 

In modern societies, our social responsibility is to protect those who are helpless, such as children, the disabled, the disenfranchised, animals, and the environment. With this, I am not saying that we should sacrifice everything to assist those in need. But, one should try to re-pay the community for all it represents or provides, which, in my perfect world, would be support (of any kind), acceptance/understanding, and the sense of belonging many of us crave. Essentially, humanity is all for which I am asking and all that I am encouraging.

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