Market blindness a third long term negative

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Market Blindness A third long-term negative consequence of consumption philanthropy is that it obscures the ways that markets produce some of the very problems—physical, social, and environmental—that philanthropy attempts to redress. In Pink Ribbons, Inc. , Samantha King describes the paradox of some pink ribbon products: labels on the outside that promote breast cancer awareness and research, but chemicals on the inside that cause the disease in the first place. So consumers buy, say, a $6 SpongeBob Pink Pants toy to help fight cancer, not realizing that this product—a frivolous item—also likely creates the toxins and other environmental hazards that help cause cancer. a Consumption philanthropy seldom calls on consumers to question the labor that went into the creation of these products. Do these allegedly responsible corporations pay their workers a living wage? Do they create safe working conditions? Do they make fair contracts? Product Red may be donating money to fight disease in Africa, but it isn’t doing enough to protect the workers who make its products, says Bristol, U.K.-based nonprofit Labour Behind the Label. Although Product Red partner Gap has worked diligently over the years to improve its ethical practices and image, for instance, the apparel company still runs afoul of both international regulations and activists: Two years ago, London’s Observer found children making Gap clothing in sweatshops in India. Cause-marketing items may be no worse than ordinary products, but they appear to be no better, either. Finally, consumption philanthropy rarely questions the act of consuming or the environmental havoc that more and more products wreak. Did the energy used to create that Endangered Species Chocolate bar destroy another acre of rain forest, and therefore hasten the endangerment of yet another species and the warming of the planet? Was that SpongeBob Pink Pants toy really worth the petroleum—and the environmental degradation that came with extracting, refining, and transforming it—that went into it? Rather than raising these questions about our purchases and their consequences, consumption philanthropy encourages people to buy more by making them feel better about it. In short, consumption philanthropy lulls people into a false sense of doing good through their purchases, even as they are potentially doing harm through their purchases. Indeed, in many cases, consumption philanthropists are exacerbating the very harms they wish to reduce. At the same time, consumption philanthropy feeds the systems and institutions that contribute to many social problems in the first place. a A year after this article was published, Komen teamed up with KFC to much criticism . 5
Meanwhile, because consumption and philanthropy have become one and the same, the distance from which one would critique consumption and the market, and imagine alternatives, is eliminated. Philanthropy becomes depoliticized, stripped of its critical, social change potential.

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