The $9 Million Amazon Boycott and Priceless Found Irony

An Amazon box on top of a box from the once globally famous, now defunct iconic Allentown retail brand. Found irony.

Speaking of the New Generative Economy (see previous post), donating clean water, trees, construction funds or socks (or buying fair trade items at local stores) works another kind of grace: it takes business away from companies who produce things in unjust conditions overseas and companies who package and ship them in unjust conditions right here in Pennsylvania.  Spencer Soper, the journalist who first broke the Amazon news, reports that almost 13,000 people have signed an online pledge to boycott Amazon via DC-based advocacy group American Rights at Work.

Soper’s new piece notes that 13,ooo people might equate to something like $9 million in sales.  Even if that’s only a drop in Amazon’s global bucket, imagine what that same $9 million could do, even when broken into pieces, for fair trade retailers and generative charities.

Here’ s the ARW open letter to Jeff Bezos, which you can sign and send online.

A Tale of Two Headlines and the New Generative Economy

I don’t typically buy USA Today, but I did yesterday because of this front-page feature about people giving the gift of clean water for Christmas. You may remember that this year, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown took part in the Advent Conspiracy and encouraged people to buy fair trade gifts or to donate to a few important causes in honor of loved ones instead of buying things for people who already have so much. The donation options at FPCA were:

  • Sixth Street Shelter expansion campaign (Allentown)
  • living gifts for a village in Malawi with whom our church has a connection
  • Gifts/socks/sneakers for Roosevelt Community School (Allentown)
  • Living Water International

This was a very successful campaign, and it was wonderful to see the national movement get the front-page treatment in USA Today. I noticed that today’s edition of that paper included this front-page headline: “Holiday Sales Numbers Fail to Dazzle.”

Welcome to the beginnings of the New Generative Economy.

I’m not happy that retailers are hurting, but I am happy that for all of the misery, the global economic crisis might yield some generative good.  When we have less money to spend, we realize how little we need.  Then we start to think about how so many people don’t even have that much.  Since we’re already going to spend less money on stuff, it’s easier to give more resources where they can do the most good.  Giving cash gifts to good organizations in honor of others blesses everyone.  Overheads have probably never been lower, and you can use resources like Charity Navigator to see where your money’s best spent.

If you have the money and the inclination to buy physical gifts in addition to this kind of giving, your local Ten Thousand Villages retailers have beautiful fair trade items hand-crafted by artisans from all over the developing world.