A Consumer Movement?
By Michael McGehee at Aug 25, 2008
I have brought up the idea of a consumer council to the local vegan diner, Spiral Diner, but have yet to hear back a response.
I chose them for an initial offer because in many ways they are radically progressive and it seems to me to be a good strategy to start locally with businesses least likely to be resistant. Maybe I am wrong but I can see a good relationship between Spiral Diner and their socially aware customers.
All over the diner are copies of The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World.
I like these guys and gals already.
Another book that has made a big impact on me is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
Obviously, if you're reading this then you have likely read either Robin Hahnel's Economic Justice and Democracy or Michael Albert's PARECON, or maybe both! All these books give a radically progressive insight into what we can do to make a better world a reality: we can democratize our economy, we can look at how we make things and we can evaluate how our diet has not only an impact on our health but our world.
And while I am plugging books about preserving our environment I might as well point out this book too: Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity. This book is a more scientific read on how much our medicine depends on biodiversity. Naturally, the naturalist E.O. Wilson has had something to do with it. Which is another reason why I strongly recommend this book.
Anywho, I think we have enough vision to start putting things in practice. With the current state of our economy and the green movement I really think now is the time for consumers to start organizing to create the foundation of a participatory society. We should look for friendly businesses to birth these relationships.
Perhaps there is some anarchist bookstore or some liberal coffee shop or some co-op grocery store or a vegan diner that is interested in seeing their customers take their consumption seriously and responsibly by playing active roles.
At Spiral Diner I noticed the straw wrapper said it was made of corn. What I want to know is this made from food or the waste captured from food.
The other day I was shopping at Kroger's and found this company: Seventh Generation, Inc. Their slogan is this: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. - From The Great Law of the Iroquois." They had everything from toilet paper (which was not bleached with chlorine) to laundry and dishwasher soap.
These are the kinds of businesses we should look at working with. One of the things I noticed on their website was that they advertise using vegetable-based products as opposed to petroleum-based products. This is good but there are still questions. Like above, are these products made from food or by capturing the waste of food?
I am not an expert. I just have questions. So here is a hypothetical scenario to help put my question in context. Say some company makes organic liquid soap out of citrus plants. Maybe they use oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. Okay. Is it possible to capture the waste from these fruits when they are used to make orange juice, lemonade, lime juice or grapefruit juice? Could the discarded rinds or pulp be used (recycled) to make the hand soap? This would seem to be more efficient and would not distract the food-based products from the hungry or raise the prices of the foods.
Asking these questions and pushing for such methods of production could be an important feature of a consumer movement represented by various councils.