WASHINGTON -- April 11 -- Millions of Americans shop at chain stores every day with little regard how their consumer habits impact their neighbors, environment and the long term health of the U.S. economy. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) -- http://www.organicconsumers.org -- is launching a new campaign to reshape consumer attitudes about what they buy, how it is made and who profits from it. The Breaking the Chains Campaign will be launched April 22 - 29 with 1,000 Earth Day week organic potluck dinners to refocus consumer demand for products made and grown locally, certified organic and without the use of unethical labor practices.
"Beginning April 22 - 29, Organic Consumers will host a thousand Earth Day Week dinner potlucks across North America, where we will gather with family and friends to share an organic meal, watch a new stimulating and entertaining 15 minute DVD animation called 'The True Cost of Food,' and talk about how we can help 'break the chains' of mindless and self-destructive consumerism," says OCA's Breaking the Chains Campaign coordinator Ryan Zinn.
"The quality and range of America's daily essentials is being dictated and degraded by a powerful network of Brand Name Bullies and Big Box chains," says Ronnie Cummins, founder of OCA. "By 'outsourcing' from sweatshops in the factories and fields, by cutting corners on public health and the environment, and by sucking up billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, Business Behemoths such as Wal-Mart have constructed a vast global shopping mall of cheap goods and conveniences, reinforced by a non-stop, 24/7 glut of multi-media distractions."
Fortunately, health-minded and ethically responsible consumers are rattling the chains of global corporate commerce. By patronizing local, independently owned stores, coops, restaurants, and coffee shops, and by shunning chain stores and socially irresponsible companies and brands, more and more consumers are rewarding producers and businesses that "do the right thing." A good example of this international marketplace insurgency is the $30 billion organic food market. At current rates of growth, most grocery store items in the industrialized world will be organic within 20 years, providing a solid livelihood for millions of small farmers around the world. Certified Fair Trade products are another important growth sector, with $500 million in annual sales.
"The Organic Consumers Association believes that the next step in this greening and re-localization of the global economy is to take a more visible public stand," says Zinn. "By working together, across communities and national borders, we can leverage the enormous collective economic clout of the world's organic and ethically conscious consumers."
Breaking the Chains: Future Activities
In September, Organic Harvest Month, OCA will organize another round of House Parties and community events. Finally, starting Nov. 25 (the day after Thanksgiving), OCA and their allies will organize a series of Global Days of Action to kick-off "Buy Local Month," which will extend until New Year's Day 2006. During this period OCA will attempt to get one million consumers to sign their petition and take the "Buy Local, Organic, and Fair Made" pledge, to boycott the chains, and to more consistently put consumer dollars where their values lie.