I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics of recession lately. In a time when some things are more expensive and when people perceive that they have/will have less money – which I’m not sure is true, other than for those whose jobs are in danger or have gone (I know four such people) – how do we respond as consumers?
The Channel 4 food fight season highlighted this over the past fortnight, as Hugh, Jamie and Jay Rayner (in a programmed almost 100% plagiarised from BBC Three’s Mischief strand, but that’s another story) all implored us to avoid the cheapest and crappest and begged the supermarkets to get their act together, whilst Gordon told us to use our local restaurants.
Over the past few years I’ve been increasingly changing my lifestyle to be more ethical and also to focus on quality. I’m trying to support local businesses: Cocoa, The Dram Shop, Beanies, local pubs, local breweries, some local cafes and so on. I have now joined The Showroom as well – I was debating a Cineworld pass, as there’s a lot of good stuff out, but I decided I couldn’t do that as it would mean never using my local indie cinema. So I’ve decided to do most indie type films at The Showroom (it’s also across the road from work – convenient) and the ticket prices will generally work out cheaper for these, and the big blockbusters at Cineworld but not on a monthly pass. I don’t know whether it will work out cheaper or longer in the long-term, I just want to support local business at a time it needs it most. I still use Meadowhall and some big chains, but where a better local alternative exists, I’m trying to go with that.
As for supermarkets, am having a mini-dilemma. I only go about once a month now, but I’m debating the ethics vs affordability of them. I’ve been shopping at Morrisons for the tins and packets etc for the past year or two, but now my aunt has told me they treat their staff like crap, so I’m torn. Do I go to Waitrose because they are more ethical, or not, because they are a lot dearer? I use Sainsbury’s local and Somerfield for bits and bobs because of the convenience/environmental issue, but for the stuff I can’t get there? The big Saimsbury’s are too far out, Asda likewise and also I’m not sure about the Wal-Mart thing, Tesco are the epitome of evil, and now I’m not sure about the big M. So that leaves Waitrose, but it’s costly – and in a recession is that wise? My income isn’t diminished yet but should I be tightening my belt in case? How are other people tackling this whole thing?