You’re an activist. You are committed to effecting change in your world. You know that hitting the corporate or institutional pocketbook can be an good way to get someone’s attention. But, you’re just one person. So, why should you have a boycott list?
- For many years, I and my family ate at Chick-Fil-A regularly. In 2012, though, we stopped, due to the founder’s comments about gay people and same-sex marriage. We haven’t eaten there since.
- I could save money by going to WalMart, but I don’t. Why? Because of the way they exploit their people and the communities around them, and because of their actions against unions and union organizers.
The Two Types of Boycotts
- A personal boycott list is my list of places that I will not support due to concerns with their ethics, morals, or policy/political stances. Essentially, a personal boycott list is me living out my own ethical or moral code, via my own money and actions. I don’t necessarily try to get others to join me, and I may or may not make a point of letting the business or institution know. I honor the boycott as a way to stand up for what I believe, whether or not it necessarily affects the business I’m boycotting.
- A group boycott, on the other hand, is specifically meant to affect a given business or institution. It may be punitive, but the most effective ones are not seeking to hurt the institution as much as get it to change by calling widespread attention to the company’s practices. Again, the point is less about hurting the company’s bottom line (although that will often happen), and more about hurting the company’s image.
How to Make Your Personal Boycott List More Effective
- Know your list. You should be clear about who you are boycotting, and even more, what your reasons are. If something changes, you may need to revise your list. If I am boycotting Chick-Fil-A because of the owner’s opposition to gays, and the owner makes an about-face on the issue, I should consider whether to keep them on the list.
- Be calmly clear about your list to others. I’m not saying make a big statement about it. But, if someone else suggests patronizing an establishment that is on your personal boycott list, you can say “Sorry, I don’t shop there. Can we go to ____?” This is another reason to be clear about why you are doing this: you can give a cogent reason to explain your request not to spend money there.
- Contact the management. This is taking it to another level, isn’t it? I mean, it’s one thing to vote with your wallet. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to let the persons in charge know why you aren’t coming there any longer. But, isn’t this just another way to make a difference? And, is it not possible that your lonely communication might still have an impact?