Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Attempt at Moral Shopping

I've been thinking about corporations and businesses who give money to Planned Parenthood a lot lately and the inevitable question of how they should be dealt with arises.  Since moving to our new home it's a topic that's come up, not infrequently, in conversations with other women, and it's somewhat comforting to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this topic (on the other hand it's highly disturbing that anyone has to worry about this at all!).  At times it's very, very tempting to turn a blind eye to what's going on, and how the money we spend is being passed on and used to kill those who most need to be defended.

Turning away from spending money with companies that are linked to Planned Parenthood, began a few years ago in our house, when I began to read disturbing articles about Planned Parenthood's link to the Girl Scouts (OSV also has an article here).  If you search for the topic online you can find enough disturbing information to make you think twice about buying thin mints, much less taking your daughter to weekly meetings to be exposed to their... literature (they also make the "dishonorable mention" list on this lifesite news article).

From what I'd read about the link between Girl Scouts and P.P., the claims usually involve more about indoctrination into the culture of death and promiscuity than anything else, but in many ways that's more disturbing than large donations from corporations.  P.P.'s trying to warp the minds of the young, so that they think that killing the unborn, for any reason whatsoever, is just a part of life.

Since I can easily put away a package of Girl Scout cookies in less than an hour, this first step in the boycott was rather hard.  After all, who wants to walk by those cute little girls in front of the super marker, with their delicious cookies, and say "no."  But it was a first step for our family in spending our cash in ways that didn't disturb our consciences.

After giving up G.S. cookies we learned about the Susan G. Komen foundations connections to Planned Parenthood (at least I think it was after... it was around the same time when I began to learn about PP's connections that I learned about both companies...).  Suddenly shopping during Breast Cancer Awareness months became exceedingly difficult.  But the Komen foundation has given millions and millions of dollars to P.P... and so I find myself scouring labels with the little pink ribbon to see if the money is going to Komen or some other, non PP donating organization and trying to make purchases accordingly.

The next step in our own family campaign for more ethical spending came when we read about Kraft, Pepsi and Nestle and their involvement with aborted fetal cell research (mmmm!  Making your food taste better by using artificial flavors and making sure they wouldn't harm an aborted unborn child's kidney cells!).  Kraft was the most honest in their response with: hey-but-using-dead-babies-helps-us-come-up-with-innovative-flavors, but they must have standards of some sort, because at least they didn't completely lie in their response like Pepsi did, with a very untrue note about how they don't do that sort of thing.  There are Pepsi stockholders who are fighting Pepsi's involvement at the moment, but I think it's important to remember that they haven't won yet... If they do I'll be happy to buy Pepsi for Paul and eat at Taco Bell again. And of course there's Nestle who tiptoed around the question without answering it (with a we don't do anything that everyone else doesn't do! sort of answer), which also helped them onto our personal boycott list.

It wasn't easy giving up Kraft.  In fact, I still find myself discovering companies that are owned by Kraft every week.  As I'm writing this I hopped over and checked out the wikipedia entry, and found out Cadbury was part of Kraft (Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Did I know that before and block it out?!?!).  However, giving up Nabisco, Philadelphia (as in kraft's cream cheese), Oscar Mayer, A1, Cracker Barrel, Capri Sun, Dentyne gum, Handi-Snacks, Halls, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Nutter Butters and Newtons, Planters, Ritz, Stove Top, Triscuit, Trident, Toblerone, Velveeta, and Wheat Thins hasn't been easy (for a full list of their "large brands" from the Kraft website go here.  And the brands above are just the tip of the iceberg...).  It's hard to remember what Kraft owns.  But we have made an honest effort to avoid buying from companies that think it's business as usual to include the destruction of human life as part of the process when testing their products.

After all, if I can check labels for nutrition information, I can certainly check to see if they say "Kraft Foods" anywhere.

I've also been taking a second list at the other groups that make the pro-life boycott list (at least what's freely available) and I'm thinking of taking the plunge and paying $19 to get the actual list from Life Decisions International so that we can feel more confident shopping.  Red Lobster and Olive Garden both make the list of places we won't be frequenting during special occasions, and we won't be visiting the nice looking Whole Foods across town any time soon either (okay... I wouldn't have been shopping their anyways...).

I do encourage everyone to buy from Kohl's and Mrs. Fields since they made their way off the list in the past year!

I know that a lot of people probably think we're a little bit crazy for taking this so far, because it's not the easiest thing in the world, but after lots of thought I knew that in good conscience I couldn't continue to support these businesses in any way, knowing what they pass the money along to.  It seems to me that often times the things we should do aren't easy, and I think spending our money responsibly to avoid supporting abortion providers should be high on the list!

What companies do you avoid for moral reasons?


  1. I don't think you're crazy at all... I'm actually extremely impressed, and if you're having success, maybe it's not so crazy for me to attempt that in my own shopping...

    Thanks for all the great (and sickeningly scary) info!

  2. Of course Nestle has SO MANY brand names that you would never know to avoid, unless you knew they were owned or partnered with Nestle: http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com/2009/10/07/the-updated-nestle-product-boycott-list/

  3. I agree, not crazy in the least and I too am impressed. I rather lackadaisically go about avoiding the pink ribbon products and anything having to do with Komen, but I don't think I fully realized that so many products were linked!

    There are a couple of replacements for Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls is getting bigger and is supported by the Boy Scouts and looks like a fun group. Then there is the good old "Little Flowers" group for Catholic girls. We need not deal with girl scouts at all to have the fun girls activity groups!!

    I appreciate the info. It'll influence my shopping for sure!

  4. I always avoid anything with a pink ribbon on it, but honestly, I have a hard time remembering which companies do what. I mean from AT&T with porn to Pepsi with stem cells to certain Trader Joes with planned parenthood.....

    And while I certainly wouldn't give money to PP or SGK or anything, I kind of feel like if I really boycotted every single company that supported or gave money to anything immoral, I'd be living without a phone, internet, computer (remember, Apple computers are made in a communist country with forced abortions!), books, and who knows what else. I won't contribute directly, but personally I just find it impractical in the immoral age we live in to really apply strict buying principles across the board. I may try to avoid non-necessities from someplace refusing to say the word Christmas or something but I just feel like I already have enough on my plate without living like an Amish woman.

  5. I understand where ya'll are coming from and I agree with the avoidance of Komen and the Girl Scouts (I avoid them even without PP connections) and even Pepsi with them stemcells.

    However, and I don't want to get lambasted but I feel the need to play the voice of reality. Kraft is a major corporations with hundreds of companies that they happen to own 51% or more the stock in that company. Many of those companies, I would think but don't know for sure, don't necessarily give their money to PP.

    Boycotting Kraft directly is one thing, but boycotting the companies that they own stock of (that are independently run with their own CEOs and management staff) without knowing what they stand for individually could potentially be hurting decent companies and decent employees.

    I can almost guarantee there's at least 1 stock-holder for nearly every major corporation in America that is pro-choice and gives some of their money to PP. That doesn't mean the company of the stock is supporting
    PP. Once they're a publicly traded company, anyone can purchase their stock.

    I'd look into the individual companies one by one to see where they're tax deductible contributions go directly. It might be difficult but worth the extra effort if you're really trying to make a point.

    Does that make sense?

  6. We don't go pink around here!! Sometimes my husband will pick up something pink by accident but he doesn't do the majority of the shopping so it's okay.

    One thing I learned a few years ago is that the off-brand item you buy in the grocery store is usually manufactured by the main company (like Kraft cream cheese vs. store brand cream cheese) so I always wonder if I'm secretly supporting those companies by accident? We started to do everything as local as humanly possible. I get my eggs, milk, vegetables and other perishables from local sources. The things that are stupid expensive are purchased from Costco but I know I have cut out the majority of the support to large and ethically questionable businesses. I make dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner and if I can't make it, I buy from small natural-minded businesses or I buy from private vendors like Etsy! We also use cloth diapers. I am really conscious about who I support continually!

  7. Hi Everyone-

    Apparently this post is so long it has to be in two parts....

    Thank you for all the insightful comments. Again, I don't pretend to be an expert on this whole topic, although I do plan on writing about it a little bit more often, just because I don't think we hear enough about it! I have been trying to gather my thoughts in response to some of the thoughts you've shared, and this is what I've come up with so far... again, obviously nothing I'd ever claim was authoritative, just based on what I think and feel:

    And whether I agree of disagree with all the different points that come up and are going to come up I appreciate your comments and that you've shared here! This is a tough, sticky subject and there aren't any easy answers!

    First off, the brands I've listed are all Kraft brands, not just brands that they own stock in. They're the products that say "Kraft" often in very small letters on the side of the label. I'm not going to go out and search for small companies that Kraft has invested in (and we could fill in Nestle for this too) but I just don't feel comfortable knowingly buying products from any company that gives money to PP. One difference I see between a stock holder donating and a company donating is that the company is the one we're actually giving our hard earned money too, whereas a stock holder is just collecting dividends. While obviously it's not realistic to hold companies responsible for their stockholders donations, I do think it's reasonable to hold a corporation responsible for the handouts that they makes. If people really disagree with what the company that they own stock in is doing, they can always fight it like some of Pepsi's stockholders are doing... and I really hope they're successful. But on a personal level I'd feel badly knowing the money I was spending was going in any way to a corporation giving large amounts of money to support abortion.

  8. I also only really draw the line at companies who contribute to abortion, because I do feel that it's the preeminent issue. Other companies may contribute to people committing sins, but in the case of abortion the matter is so grave that I can't really ignore it. So I won't be searching to find out if the companies we buy from have some seedy business connections or less than desirable political campaigns (that don't have to do with the culture of death), but I will focus on the abortion connection, simply because I think the issue is more dire.

    I haven't avoided buying from countries with horrible abortion laws/ connections because if I did I wouldn't be shopping in the US... after all, tax payer dollars very much do pay for abortions here, and anyone who says that isn't true is misinformed (that's one thing I most definitely know from my time volunteering at PP). So I don't have plans to boycott companies who do business in countries where tax dollars pay for abortions, because it's not as if the companies are consenting to that spending, unlike the companies who donate to PP who make my list. After all, as a business owner in the US I can't help what my tax dollars are doing... in fact I hate it with every fiber of my being... but at this point it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

    In the end, for me, I guess that's what it comes down to... whether or not a company is knowingly cooperating with and assisting the evil of abortion by funding it or promoting indoctrination that would make such a devaluation of human life more the norm than it already is.

    At least that's my semi jumbled, rambling logic. So far it hasn't been too difficult for me. Sure I have, "Wow, I'd really like to buy that!" moments, but thankfully there's so much competition that I can usually find an alternative fairly easily. That's actually part of why I wrote this post today. I'm planning on highlighting some of the alternatives to these pro-death companies, in a weekly post (if I can manage to be that disciplined).

    Sorry for the post length comment! I've been thinking about this so much lately!

  9. After looking at this list online I couldn't believe how many companies fund PP. Wow, it is totally horrible. It makes me want to throw something across the room because people can't put two and two together: Abortion is the KILLING of HUMAN BEINGS and KILLING HUMAN BEINGS IS BAD!!! Honestly...

  10. Thank you for bringing this to my attention again. I was contemplating buying the list earlier this year and didn't. Then I guess I just let it slip my mind for a while, but after talking with my husband tonight we decided it was important for us to boycott abortion-funding companies. So, I just purchased a list and would like to share something (that you may already know) ... It's actually $21.95 now and LDI only sends the list through the postal service (no email or fax) so they say it can take up to 6 weeks to receive the list.

  11. It's a REALLY tricky for me, because I also try to boycott companies that don't have GLBT-friendly policies, or that don't follow fair labor standards (child labor, forced/prison labor, unsafe working conditions, etc.).

    I'm trying to stick to small/local businesses whenever possible, because most GLBT-friendly companies also tend to support Planned Parenthood and/or NARAL.

  12. I rarely buy anything processed or pre-made so I don't worry too deeply about this. Produce and fresh meat and other raw ingredients rarely are effected. I do kind of feel like this can become ridiculously scrupulous. I mainly wanted to comment that in our area 4H and American Heritage Girls are completely controlled by Catholic hating evangelicals and so not a viable option. My daughter tried a homeschool 4H group which claimed to be secular but brought in speakers who said horrible things about Catholics. American Heritage girls here are run by Jerry Falwell's old church and when I asked if Catholics were welcome she said "of course, my mother first heard of Jesus in the Catholic church before she left it" Yeah, I don't think so.So I am looking at putting my daughter in a Girl Scout troop because an indirect monetary connection to PP, but having trusted local leaders(worked with them for years as a leader, some are also Catholic) is a lesser evil than a group actively trying to convert your child and criticize the church. Most of that PP garbage in the Girl Scouts is in urban areas and at the national level. Local attitude is entirely dependent on the individual leaders- there is no required curriculum. My point being you don't always get an across the board clear moral choice in these things. No Catholic kids groups here, deep in evangelical country.

  13. I started to write a response to all the comments and questions I've received but it was definitely too big for the combox. So I wrote a new post: http://awomansplaceis.blogspot.com/2011/11/hearsay-scrupulosity-and-defunding.html It's not directed at anyone in particular, but is directed at comments I've received here and on facebook. Hopefully it clarifies where I'm coming from a bit more. It's such a sticky subject! Nothing about it is easy....


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