Friday, November 7, 2014

Lush Charity Pot: Ethical issues with supporting Shock Value Organizations

EcoYogini considers the value of donating through consumerism...

Today I bought a Lush Charity Pot. It won't be my first. I will admit that I am a periodic Lush consumer and have a pretty decent love/hate relationship with Lush. Basically- I love that they are transparent in their ingredients, I love some of their products and I hate that they don't have 100% clean products and some of their Charity campaigns make me uncomfortable.

Alright, so beyond my general ambivalence towards Lush itself, I'm suffering from some hardcore dissonant thinking with their Charity Pot concept.

First things first- I have some firm misgivings about donating to charities via consumerism. I'm a pretty staunch believer of "if you want to donate to a Charity, just do it. Don't purchase more junk and have a non confirmed portion of the proceeds go to said Charity." The Breast Cancer campaigns of pink washing each year completely solidifies this stance as well as charity giving recommendations I've read and heard over the past few years.

How do I really know that the money is going towards what I want? For Lush's Charity Pot, in any case, they have a pretty clear and simple giving paradigm that's used and a quick internet search reveals some reputable companies on the receiving end that provide some clear numbers of how much the Charity Pot raised for their campaign.

So that's good.

I also really like how generally Charity Pot raises money towards local community initiatives chosen by store staff. This is fabulous.

Some of the funds make me uncomfortable. I am definitely weary of PETA and other organizations that use shock-value and (and often misogynistic) protest methods/campaigns. I am anti-animal cruelty, but I'm not anti-animal hunting. Since that statement right there could be a whole other blog post, let's just leave it there and say I really really really don't like animal activists using women's bodies protrayed in a sexualized (and often violent) manner to "sell" their agenda.

Today's Charity Pot is to raise funds to stop the fur-trade, and for myself in Nova Scotia, the mink/fox farming is of particular interest. The girl at the store was delighted to share "Did you know..." facts about mink/fox farms... until I informed her that I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, in the middle of the mink/fox farming "belt" and was all too aware of their environmental impact. Afterwards she proudly informed other staff of my "legit" status... and was in awe that I saw first hand the impact of river run offs, lake pollution, cages and smells and sounds from the road.

I felt it was important to share that most rural Nova Scotians (who aren't mink/fox farmers) are quite against the practice. Now, maybe not necessarily from a "animal cruelty" perspective- most rural Nova Scotians have a more realistic and respectful relationship with animal husbandry and although would acknowledge it's cruel, may not necessary be moved to act for that reason alone... (note "most"). No, it's more the very real and lived impact on their local environment that is of increasing concern. We're not actually rednecks who hate the environment ya know.

So I bought a pot. And, maybe should have waited. I looked up what a previous Sea Shepard/Lush anti-seal hunt campaign supported and saw photos like th
ese: (Lush employees)
(from SeaShepherd)

Ugh, violent mockups of women scantily clad. Yeah, that really has all to do with the seal hunt.... disgusting and extremely disappointing display of using women's bodies (violently) to "sell" something.

The Charity Pot currently supports "The Association for Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals"- which their website doesn't have any shock-value, misogynistic displays/campaigns but reads like it could.

I just don't feel so great anymore about my purchase or confident that by buying a Charity Pot I made the best investment with my money to help stop mink/fox farming in NS in a mature and profound way. The Ecology Action Centre might have been my better bet....

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