In my Enviroment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field course on October 21, a speaker posed the question, “Do you believe in benevolent capitalism?” My initial reaction to this question was: absolutely not. But as I listened to what Sheri Flies, assistant general merchandise mangager of Costco had to say during her talk, I became more convinced that it may be possible to attain such a goal if the ethics and integrity of a company’s mission statement is matched by management whose goal is not only profit, but also sustaining our environments and communities. The idea that a company would be as invested in bettering communities through ethical employment practices as they would be in their own profit, is quite groundbreaking. It is common to hear of large conglomorations that ignore the strains their companies put on the environment and people who work to supply their products. The idea of benevolent capitalism is something that most people would want to support, however, the time and research it would take one person to ensure the products they purchase are being aquired without harming the environment, without exploiting individuals and communities, in addition to respecting the laws of the other countries that supply the ingredients they use—would be a task larger than the average person could even take on. Through a bit of research, I have found an application that appears to fill this very need. The buycott application (http://www.buycott.com/) is an app you can load onto your mobile phone or tablet device; after identifying which campaigns you support, when you search for a product, the app will cross-check to see how the company compares to the campaigns you are passionate about.
For example, if a company uses gmos in their cereal and does not want gmos labeled, the app will tell you that the company not only supported, but funded the bill opposing gmo labeling. While this app is not perfect, mainly because information changes very quickly, it is still an easy to use tool for consumers looking to support companies that match their ethical guidelines—which is another step in the right direction towards benevolent capitalism.
Rachel Moyer ‘15
Rachel is an Ada Comstock Scholar, American Studies major and Study of Women and Gender minor. Originally from Seattle, WA, Rachel intends to pursue a career in journalism. She lives off-campus with her three cats.