Why ‘voting with your dollar’ doesn’t work

I just came across this post and am reblogging it as it is very well thought out. On a daily basis I find “it ain’t easy being green”, but every little step we take in becoming more responsible for the world we live in will add up. We just can’t take one step and feel we’ve “done our part”. We have become complacent, and therefore complicit. Make informed choices and keep opening your eyes wider and wider.


The fall down the rabbit hole is a long one – and often very painful. Once you start to deconstruct reality around you, you tend to alienate a lot of people. They are perfectly adjusted and don’t need your philosophical musings, thank you very much.


Vote with your dollars is something you will hear well-meaning sustainability-leaning people say a lot. I used to. I still do, to an extent, but it took a long time to realize just how difficult that is.

The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. If you are against animal testing on cosmetics, you make sure to only buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals. Easy, right? Not so fast. Did you know that The Body Shop (the most famous worldwide company for natural and ethically produced beauty products) is owned by L’oreal? I didn’t, and…

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About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
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3 Responses to Why ‘voting with your dollar’ doesn’t work

  1. Very well articulated essay on the topic. Thanks for sharing. So what are we suppose to do? She apparently gave up and just buys L’Oreal because it fits the budget and does the job. I am stuck with options like this all the time. Is there a way to turn this around? I’m beginning to doubt it. This reminds me of Bill McKibben’s life mission to get everyone on the planet to act together to reduce carbon emissions. Decades ago, he used to advocate that if “everyone did their bit” by lowering their own carbon footprint, we’d get it done. Years ago, he came to the conclusion it’s not the average Joe that’s the problem, it’s the governments around the world and the big businesses. Until they get on side with the need to get down to 350 ppm, nothing significant will change. He’s stated that his mission feels hopeless, but he’d rather die trying than not try. That’s kind of what this rabbit hole thing feels like. I’m going to keep doing my best, knowing that it’s not really going to change anything, but I’d rather know I’d spent my life doing my best.
    My I’m wordy today ….sorry!

    • I just have to believe that if we keep taking steps in the right direction, it has GOT to make some sort of a difference. If we don’t, there’s no chance at all. I don’t agree with the title about voting with your dollars not working – if you are truly making an informed decision (I.e. now I know Loreal owns The Body Shop).
      The fact she goes ahead and buys Loreal shampoo after all that was disconcerting at first, but although I feel I make a huge effort to be vigilant, I am by no means perfect. Not even close. We just have to do what we can within our means, but not stop looking for better alternatives. Change takes a lot of time and effort on top of already crazy busy lives. I think the most important takeaway is to think about our choices and weigh their impact on ourselves, others and the environment. Awareness is half the battle.
      (fyi – I’m typing this while waiting at the farm for the plumbing supply delivery again!! Keep your fingers crossed he shows up this time. I’ve already been waiting 2.5 hours…)

      • Thoughtful answer, thanks. It’s easy to be disheartened by a piece like this, but the truth is, I’m raising broilers and pigs on pasture, ranging my layers, etc for a reason, and I’m not about to give up just because it’s not going to feed the world. Truthfully for change will have to happen on several fronts for it to be big enough to create …change, if you know what I mean. Bill McKibben used to be an advocate for all of us doing our little bit to lower our carbon footprint, but now he says that’s not going to create the change we need, so he’s started 350.org and focusing on change at the government and industry level, globally. I don’t think he means us to stop turning off our lights or turning down our thermostats, it’s just that there has to be other battle fronts.

        Wow, again??? Maybe you need to find another supplier. At this rate, getting the stuff by mail order would have been faster.

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