I was aware from a very young age that my parents didn’t buy any Nestle products. They explained the reasons for the boycott, and it made perfect sense to me. After spending two years in Africa with the Peace Corps, those reasons made even more sense. I don’t knowingly buy Nestle products, but the boycott is rarely something I think about. It’s sort of like brushing my teeth – just something I do.
Recently there has been quite a bit of chatter in the blog world about the fact that BlogHer 10 is being sponsored in part by a couple of Nestle subsidiaries. Several bloggers have decided to opt out of the conference, and others have been quite torn by the decision. Attending conferences isn’t very high on my list of things I like to do, so this isn’t an issue for me. But I know that it’s been painful for several bloggers who are actively involved in promoting breastfeeding. (I’ve had BlogHer ads running on my site for a few years now, although I’ve manually opted out of having any ads for baby formula/bottles/nipples, etc.)
Boycotting Nestle takes more than just avoiding candybars and cocoa with their logo on it. They own a tremendous number of other companies, and produce everything from bottled water and pet food to Lean Cuisine and Hot Pockets. Actively boycotting them might require taking a list of the brands with you to the grocery store.
Unless you’re into frugal homemade food, and simple, whole, organic foods.
I will admit that even though I never knowingly purchase Nestle products, I hadn’t seen an updated list of their companies in years. When I sat down to write this post, I checked out the list that I linked to above, and was happy to see that I’ve been avoiding Nestle without even trying.
I do my grocery shopping at the local co-op and at a small, regional chain health food store. 95% of what I buy is organic. I do not buy prepared meals or processed food, which eliminates most of the companies owned by Nestle (and helps to keep my grocery bill down). I make our own desserts, often inspired by something from Kristen’s Raw (I tend to make things that aren’t particularly fancy and take very little time to prepare). We drink mostly water, but we don’t buy bottled water. I don’t wear make-up, and we don’t buy candy or ice cream. When I grocery shop, the cart is filled mostly with produce (not as much anymore since our garden is producing more – yay!) and stuff from the bulk bins like nuts, seeds, flour, coconut, etc.
Shopping at farmer’s markets, co-ops, and small health food stores has a lot of hidden benefits. If I have to spend money on food, I like knowing that I’m supporting small local businesses as well as farms and companies that have similar values to my own. Nestle is pretty bad, but let’s face it, so are a lot of other big corporations. Buying food from small local companies makes it easier to have at least a bit of an idea where your money is going.
Going to thrift stores for non-food items is another great way to direct our dollars somewhere besides the pockets of big companies. The thrift stores where I shop are non-profits devoted to helping the needy, the homeless, people with epilepsy, and people with developmental disabilities. I know that there are some for-profit thrift stores out there, but most of the others are set up to raise money for various charitable causes, which is one more reason to shop there.
Shopping the way we do, for both food and everything else, makes our money go further and keeps us healthy and happy. It works for us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And it has the added benefit of not contributing profits to companies that I find reprehensible.