The Consumer Needs to Change First and This Broken Cycle Needs to Finally Rest
By Erik Croswell

There are no good guys and bad guys. There are people who choose to consider the perspectives of others and people who don’t pay this much mind or simply can’t see it.

Any issue that we see at the tops of our news feeds are generally more complex than they might let on to be but are often disguised to represent over simplified, two-dimensional solutions for three-dimensional problems. One group will point a finger of blame at another who will respond with “No no. Hey now. We only do this because they make us.” And this rusted chain eventually ends up wrapping back around in a loop to the beginning, starting with a brand new day of blame gaming, back patting, and scape goat farming.  It’s broken and inefficient.

We can generally see this cycle push through three common groups: government systems, consumers, and corporations.  There is an undeniable truth that for any genuine change to actually happen, all three must adapt. However, we believe there is a functional process to get there which might be able to make some real change once and for all, and it starts with the consumer.

“Conscious consuming” is by no means a new idea but it’s certainly not one that’s caught on in the way that it needs to, and that’s because it hasn’t yet had the power to become a mass movement.  While it might feel good to pay the extra fifty cents to buy a more energy-efficient light bulb, critics of this ideology are right in saying that this behavior is not nearly enough.

But now, in a world of extremely powerful social media and e-commerce systems, the consumer has more power than they’ve ever had before and more of us are figuring this out everyday.  An educated consumer is now capable of looking deep into the ins and outs of a company and is able to make decisions on who deserves their support vs. who should have a social media hashtag boycott movement lead against them.

As consumers, we generally make decisions that align with our own standards or the standards of our peers, but corporations and government systems are generally more complex. If a president feels strongly about making an important environmental change, they’ll need to get a bill approved through the house of representatives and congress. If a CEO of a major corporation wants to start offering higher wages to their employees, they’ll need approval from a board of directors, and if this decision does not lead to a clear path of growth for shareholders, the CEO might be promptly replaced by someone who will play along with the profit-first structure of the corporation. While ethical changes from a government or major business certainly offer a much larger and more important change for our world, the barriers against free will are greater than that of consumers.

So what do you do about it? Vote with your dollar and your voice! We don’t have to feel helpless. With proper research, we can make a big impact.

For instance, if you’d like to avoid contributing to a greater climate footprint for your food, we can look up where a company’s processing plants are, what other organizations they’re giving money to, and how the farmers of the original raw ingredients are treating the crops.  And If there is a company that shows a significant level of social responsibility and you feel good about supporting them, let others know and continue to support them! This will help drive demand and reinforce that their responsible practices are capable of influencing profit, which should encourage other companies to follow suit when they learn of these trends.

At Bridge City Media, we care about giving a stronger voice to innovative companies that are pushing to make a positive change in public health and the environment. We believe that helping these businesses connect with an educated consumer base could help in this great movement of change we’d like to see in the world.

If we lived in a world with a more active and educated consumer base, everything would change. For example, to fight major health epidemics in America, we can be vocal about our trust in foods with a nutritious balance of ingredients and honest marketing. This gives these companies more power to continue growing and thus puts pressure on other companies to start holding themselves to higher standards of ingredients to secure their profits, which allows major CEOs more freedom to make decisions in favor of better ethics. This then creates a wider base of lobbyists and bureaucrats that will encourage federal legislation toward better opportunities of subsidies for companies that yield more positive impacts on public health.

Where we choose to put our money is what shapes our society. While this power might bear greater weight in the hands of others, it is still a responsibility that we all share. If we don’t like the balance of the current structure, we can change it! The ways things are right now favor companies that constantly bully our public health and our environment, this needs to stop and we need to start believing that we can do something about it.

Author: Erik Croswell

Erik Croswell is a Portland entrepreneur that founded Bridge City Media, a video marketing company that focuses on working with higher practice businesses.

Outside of film, he likes to travel, hike, and climb. He think there’s a lot to be gained from exploring other parts of the world and being exposed to new perspectives.