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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Wallet activism this holiday season and beyond

Published 12/17/09
By Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate

While preserving the planet requires that we all consume less overall (i.e., limit the amount of “stuff” we buy), even the most frugal consumers will make some purchases this holiday season and beyond.

So when you do buy “stuff,” why not practice a little wallet activism — make retailers work a little harder for your hard-earned cash by demanding they be socially responsible.

What do I mean by social responsibility? Well, Fashion United — an online business-to-business platform for the fashion industry in the U.K., summed it up nicely:

What do we mean by Social Responsibility? Simply that commercial success cannot and should not be divorced from social awareness. Commercial success brings with it the huge responsibility to both the people on whom it depends and to the environment in which it exists.

Whether it is an issue of child labour, animal rights or using hazardous products for the environment, companies must develop healthy relationships with suppliers. Retailers, believe it or not, can be a major force for change in the field of social development and improved working conditions.

This is contrary to the oft-expressed view that trade merely exploits the workforce in poorer countries. A key factor is raising awareness. And awareness is a simple act that starts with the individual.

That’s a lot to think about. But let’s just look at one issue for starters. Fur.

Retailers have many choices when it comes to what makes up their inventory. Unfortunately, not all retailers have recognized the importance of animal welfare nor acknowledged that they directly contribute to a cruel and unnecessary industry when they sell fur.

Shopping with concern for the environment, people, and animals is a core value for many educated men and women.

Born Free USA knows all too well the cruelty of the fur trade. Whether wild-caught or factory-farmed, no fur garments are made compassionately.

This is why Born Free USA leads the US fur free retailer program in coordination with the international program as part of the Fur Free Alliance.

Not only do we ask retailers not to sell fur, we ask them to take a stand against fur by putting their fur free commitment in writing.

While some retailers may not currently sell fur, they have been unwilling to make a written commitment.

I don’t know what they are scared of.

That’s too bad for them, because research shows that consumers like to support retailers who stand for something.

A 2006 survey on “cause branding” conducted by PR Week revealed that Baby Boomers and Generation X and Y consumers are ultimately loyal to brands that are committed to a cause or causes. The survey results show, in fact, that about two-thirds of Gen X and Gen Y consumers have “voted with their check-books,” and have “purchased one brand over another because they know it supports a cause they believe in.” And in a 2002 national poll of upscale consumers, conducted by Decision Research, 81% considered selling fur products to be socially irresponsible.

So, when you do need to shop for new clothes or household items, support one of the retailers who have taken a stand against cruelty, and help us bring more retailers on board by letting retailers know that you’d like to see their name on our list.

Blogging off,


P.S. If you’re on Facebook you can show your support by joining the fur free retailer page!

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