COLUMN: The power of buycotting

Gisella+Mancera

Gisella Mancera

Gisella Mancera, Columnist

Individualistic tendencies blind us from the part we play in large-scale consumption patterns. Lately, people have been waking up to this reality, especially generation Z. First Insight, a platform for consumer data, reports that Generation Z has increased the demand for sustainable products, with 73 percent of surveyed report their willingness to spend more on a sustainable product.

These sentiments are reflected in today’s movements that promote stepping away from overconsumption. Online clothing brands, such as SHEIN or Zara, are part of the wider trend of fast fashion. Fast fashion is when clothing companies produce clothes that are low quality but can be purchased for extremely low prices. These companies are known to follow trends and adjust accordingly.

The influx of trends makes these companies known for excessive amounts of waste, both in clothing, but also the production of toxins. Younger individuals have created noise online in an effort to warn people of the environmental consequences of participating in fast fashion. Because of online advocacy people are becoming more conscious of where their clothes are coming from.

Despite this progress, people argue that the individual consumer is often made to feel guilty at the hands of corporations. These comments were especially prevalent after the 2019 plastic straw ban in California. Why should the responsibility to reduce waste be placed on individual citizens when corporations are to blame for the systematic stripping of resources, pollution, and overall environmental degradation?

What people fail to see is that these companies have no incentive to reduce waste or make products sustainable when people are still buying their product. Corporations are seen as these monstrous entities that are afforded overarching power, but really, it’s just a group of rational decision makers, the same as the consumer. Except when their job is to make money, these companies aren’t going to change their product out of newfound benevolence, consumers have to demand it.

This is where buycotting becomes extremely prevalent. Buycotting is different than boycotting. Instead of inaction, buycotting is the active approach of buying goods that reflect the consumers ethical standards. Buycotting encourages consumers to acquire knowledge about the products they buy.

Of course, buycotting is only available for the financially privileged. Not everyone has the advantage of incorporating ethics into their shopping. But I think that if we want to see change in our markets we have to start rallying our consumer power. Buycotting movements have the advantage of flowering in online spaces where information is transparent and can be shared easily. It is never too late to start being a smart consumer, all of the information is at your fingertips.

Gisella Mancera is a senior sociology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]