Dear consumers, shop with your values

Colin Sumner

One beautiful thing about living in the U.S. is its individualism, where each person is entitled to their own set of beliefs. U.S. corporations have also been given the green light to act as individual “people” under the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It allows companies to contribute to political parties, like any U.S. citizen would.

McDonald’s has contributed over $555,000 to political campaigns from 2019 to 2020, according to opensecrets.org, and nearly $85,000 more went to Republican candidates than Democrats. Meanwhile, Starbucks and Coca-Cola donated a larger share of money to Democrats. For consumers advocating for or against a certain party, blind purchasing could lead to one’s money supporting the opposing party’s campaign.

Some corporations have donated to charities with discriminatory policies, especially historically anti-LGBTQ+ charities. For example, the popular fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A has donated to multiple controversial organizations in recent years, including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two organizations with anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

Although Chick- fil-A stopped supporting these charities, it never discussed why they discontinued support. The company also explicitly mentioned that these groups would not be excluded from support in the future.

In addition to donating to discriminatory charities, some companies have used pride colors in an attempt to increase business by faking allegiance to the LGBTQ+ community. Some companies have even gone as far as donating profits to politicians who support homophobic policies.

According to forbes.com, AT&T donated about $2.8 million to 193 anti-gay politicians, including Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who opposed the Violence Against Women Act because it protected LGBTQ+ individuals.

Instead of turning a blind eye to the groups companies support, we must be responsible consumers and investigate the morals we endorse with our dollar. Companies might even want to consider adding the following message to their websites, painting it on the side of their buildings or writing it in the sky for all to see.

WARNING: Consumer research required—purchasing any product will result in a percentage of your money going to a political cause that you may not support.

Reflect for a moment. At what point is a superficial purchase not worth it? Sure, a chicken sandwich does sound pretty good right now, but I encourage you to do your research and think harder before you make a purchase, because you could be supporting something you don’t agree with.