We are what we buy. How we choose to spend money echoes our opinion and beliefs. Maybe this is why boycotting or “buycotting” industries based on their political affiliation or financial contributions has become so pervasive.  

I was once a principled customer. Then it became exhausting. Every single errand became a landmine-filled decision-making process where for some reason or another, I should not shop there or use that service. Mentally cataloging which establishments I was supposed to avoid became a meandering mess.

Jim Jackson

Jim Jackson

While I admire the committed generations who refuse to give money to companies not holding their personal values, I am a realist who is too tired and desensitized to waste my time fretting over which chicken sandwich not to buy. At this stage in my life, preference, price and ease dictate decision-making, not what is occurring in a C-suite several states away.  

Conscientious consumers have put aside what pleases them and their taste, and opted for what is morally unencumbered. They do not eat at Jimmy John's based on the founder being a big game hunter. They do not shop at Hobby Lobby because it refuses birth control as part of its insurance plan.

They do not use Amazon.com because of their stance on work conditions. They do not use the ride-sharing service Uber because it is anti-union. They do not donate to Goodwill because it disguises itself as not-for-profit. This list could go on for what feels like eternity. 

The openly left-leaning website www.ProgressiveShopper.com is an example of how every company is at risk of categorization. It breaks down retail and brand entities into red and blue, indicating dollar amounts contributed to political affiliations and where they stand on topics like LGBT+ inclusivity, climate change and gun rights. This website is so thorough that it runs the gamut from most agreeable NFL franchise to best choice for toothpaste.

On the other end of the spectrum, former President Donald Trump is calling for boycotts of Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JP Morgan Chase and others after criticism erupted of Georgia law SB 202. Both sides of the aisle are pulling cancel cards on each other at whiplash speeds. It is not surprising the majority of shoppers have a hard time remembering whom they should boycott.   

I used to wear Nike shoes when I was younger. I thought they looked cool and I was a huge fan of Bo Jackson. As I got older, I kept spraining my ankles while wearing Nikes. Turns out, I had wide feet and there were better options. In no way did I stop buying their merchandise because of their marketing campaign with Colin Kapernick and honed focus on social awareness. Our business arrangement did not hinge on the assumption they hold my beliefs of equality.    

I would make the case that every single capitalistic endeavor has a variable that you as a consumer would not agree with. This is the approach we should have when making our daily decisions. Choose the lesser evil if you can and move on about your day. Alternatively, if you cannot get past the muck of options, you better pack it up and move to the country, maybe plant a little garden. 

Better yet is another option I picked up from a friend. If you feel a deep-down drive to show your disagreement with a company’s philosophy, but still crave their products, there is a simple solution. Conduct your guilt-ridden transaction, but then pull up your phone and politely donate to an offsetting entity perpetuating your desired cause.

Maybe this will help you to rest better after enjoying that delicious chicken sandwich. 

Jim Jackson works in the bourbon industry and resides in Frankfort with his family. He can be emailed at jackson.m.jim@gmail.com

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