Friday, August 31, 2012

Stop the Demand, End the Supply

I've noticed an interesting thing as I've started my quest toward a nonconsumerist lifestyle: Most of the other people interested in this same thing tend to be animal welfare activists.  Not just the vegans and vegetarians I know, but the omnivores as well.  I think this interest in animal welfare goes deeper than the question of whether or not to eat flesh.  I think it strikes at the very core of non-consumerism. 

Let me pause to give you a bit of back story.  I started rescuing rats in 2008.  Since then, I've taken in over a dozen unwanted rodents myself, and I've helped rehome about 50 to forever-homes.  I have friends who are fellow rat-rescuers, dog rehabilitators, cat TNR workers, you name it.  But it's all a similar goal: Find homes for as many unwanted animals as possible.  

When you work in rescue, you become pretty fanatical about spaying and neutering.  That's because the more animals that are born every year, the more end up being unwanted.  Worse, new puppies displace older dogs in shelters.  Every puppy or kitten that's born is a death sentence for some other animal.  And it's insanely difficult to get that into people's heads sometimes.  Try as we might, animal rescuers are time and again confronted with the backyard breeders who bred puppies "because they were cute" or some other asinine reason and now want us to clean up their mess. 

Anyway, a friend of mind in the rat rescue business has this very simple quote in her signature for all online dealings:  Stop the demand, end the supply.  

And I thought -- wow, that's powerful.  Not just for animals, but for everything else we consume. 

The Power of the Consumer

It's easy to think that consumers have no power.  We feel buffeted around in a world that's bigger and scarier than us.  "What difference can I possibly make?"  We say.  "Why does it matter what I do, when the rest of the world is still doing other things?"

What we don't realize is that we are the rest of the world.  The decisions we make do make a difference, and in a very real way.  When you stand up and demand something, people will listen.  They have to, because you're the consumer.  You're the person funding their payroll. 

If you stop the demand for certain things, they'll stop getting made.  It won't be instantaneous, but it'll happen.  If people couldn't make money by breeding cute puppies, fewer backyard breeders would churn them out.  If food companies couldn't make money by selling you prepackaged convenience foods, they wouldn't make them. 

Instead of bemoaning the state of the world and feeling helpless about it, make your stand!  If you don't like something, don't buy it.  Don't support industries you disagree with just because "it's the way the world works" and you're too intimidated to change.  Vote.  With every purchase and decision you make, vote.  One person at a time, one issue at a time, the world will start to change. 

Stop the demand.  End the supply. 

And with that, I'm off for the weekend.  I have a stack of library books to read and lots of new food to try out!

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