Skip to main content

I am a big fan of putting my money where my mouth is. That includes donations, but it also includes how I shop and how I invest.  I was raised on Cesar Chavez's grape boycott and was a college student during the anti-Apartheid movement. I hate it when I have to give money to a company I dislike. This kind of thing comes up all the time when companies piss us off. Too often we let those companies off the hook, but I think the most recent Rush Limbaugh controversy has alerted us once again to how effective our economic vote can be.

I draw my info on where to shop and invest from many sources, but one of the easiest to use and pretty reliable is Co-op America's Responsible Shopper. You can compare companies within an industry and you can look into some detail into a company. They are necessarily incomplete and sometimes out of date, but are a good place to start. They mainly cover large American companies, so some good smaller companies, or good companies with a narrow clientele (e.g. USAA), or some really good foreign companies (e.g. TD Bank) are not included. But it is, if nothing else, a good place to find out the worst companies and exclude them if possible from your list of companies to patronize.

Let me remind my readers of some key decisions you can make as consumers to honor important boycotts and to make your shopping and investment dollars better reflect your ideals. At the bottom I will also remind readers of an alternative way to shop that also helps you support companies that reflect your ideals.

AIRLINES:

No really good ones are listed in Responsible Shopper. I should note that they do not include Jet Blue which I believe is better than average in terms of business practices, customer service and, depending on when you book, price. So my recommendation where possible is Jet Blue.

LEAST awful on Responsible Shopper (though still bad) are Southwest Airlines, Virgin Air and Delta.

Worst of the worst are US Airways, American Airlines, Continental, and United Airlines. These are the ones to avoid if at all possible. Of course these days flying has become so awful that I honestly avoid it if I can. And I used to really love it. Airlines have taken the fun out of flying.

ALCOHOL: Hey, I publicize Drinking Liberally so maybe I should publicize good and bad alcohol companies.

Best listed is Heineken (includes Heineken Lager, Amstel Light, Buckler, Dos Equis, Tecate, Sol, Carta Blanca, Bohemia and Newcastle Brown Ale...personally I think Newcastle Brown is EXCELLENT). Heineken has a 10-year sustainability goal called “Brewing a Better Future” to cut direct and indirect climate emissions. They donate almost three times as much to Democrats as Republicans. Overall seem good.

Also listed as mediocre to good are Pernod Ricard (includes Absolut Vodka, Ricard Pastis, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute, The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum, Beefeater gin, Kahlúa, Malibu, Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagnes. Wines include: Jacob’s Greek, Montana, Campo Viejo and Graffigna...none of which I really drink personally) and Diageo (includes Guiness, Red Stripe, Hennesy, Gordon’s Gin, Bailey’s, Godiva Liqour, Romana Sambura, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan’s, Goldschlager, Jose Cuervo, Crown Royal, Sterling Vineyard wines, J&B, Johnnie Walker, Buchanans, Bullit, and Cardhu...Guiness is one of my personal favorites).

The worst alcohol companies listed are Anheuser Busch InBev (includes Budweiser, Busch, Michelob, Rolling Rock [I have other resons to dislike Rolling Rock as well], Stella Artois, Leffe, Kirin, Beck’s, and Corona as well as Bacardi Rum and organic beer Stone Mill Pale Ale) and MillerCoors (which is affiliated with Phillip Morris...brand includes Coors, Miller, Keystone, Cristal, Killian’s Irish Red, and Blue Moon...mostly crap anyway).

ATHLETIC WEAR:

Best is New Balance. Worst are Nike, Puma and Adidas. I should note that under clothing industry they also list as good Timberland, LLBean, Eddie Bauer and J Crew which all also sell athletic wear.

BANKING AND INVESTMENT:

Listed as good are Wachovia, Wells Fargo and Suntrust. I should note that recent reports I find show Wells Fargo as being really awful, so I disagree with them here. Wells Fargo is overwhelmingly right wing and they STILL try to engage in horrible predatory lending practices. I should also note that Wachovia is now owned by Wells Fargo, so they are off the "good list" as well in my book. Overall even they look mediocre. Which leaves Suntrust as MAYBE being okay.

To me the only good big financial institutions are TD Bank (which is Canadian and engaged in no predatory lending) and USAA (which limits its clientele to veteran and their families). Both have excellent customer service and at least decent business practices. Others I talk to find a local Credit Union, which is not always a guarantee of good social or business practices, but worth looking into. Same goes with some local banks.

Rock bottom both as banks/investment firms, and just plain as companies, are Bank of America and Citigroup. These are among the worst (along with Wells Fargo from what I have read) in terms of predatory lending, fees, and poor customer service. Bank of America has by far the most customer service complaints on record. Citigroup, Chase and Wells Fargo also are among the worst for customer servce according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: (via the Stop Bank Abuse website).

My advice isn't just for progressive reasons, but also for just plain good business sense. Bank of America, Citigroup, Chase and Wells Fargo are for the most part bad companies to work with. TD Bank, local banks, USAA and local Credit Unions often treat you better, treat your money better and are more responsible companies.

BEAUTY AND BODY CARE:

No companies are listed as outright good. A handful are mediocre, but the really, really worst are Johnson and Johnson and Procter and Gamble (which includes Braun and Gillette). This is a shame because Procter and Gamble was once a pretty good (or at LEAST mediocre) company. They seem to have gone downhill. Among Johnson and Johnson's bad practices is a lawsuit by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, CA for the presence of lead in their baby powder...yes...LEAD in BABY POWDER! They are also the target of several other anti-trust and class action lawsuits. Procter and Gamble has become notorious for fighting environmental and labor laws worldwide. And perhaps the reason why Proctor and Gamble went from a good company to a horrible was is that Dick Cheney joined their board in 1993. I suspect THAT was when they went downhill.

My advice is to avoid Johnson and Johnson and Proctor and Gamble.

BEVERAGES:

None are really good. Danone (includes Perrier, Danon yogurt and Stoneyfield) and Cadburry Schweppes are listed as mediocre. Danone seems to be a horrible company that happens to be the main owner of the VERY good company Stonyfield Farm. Stonyfield Farm probably brings up their rating and my advice is buy Stonyfield Farm but avoid other Danone products (e.g. Danon yogurt). Perhaps they will realize the Stonyfield Farm business model is better. Cadbury Schweppes has been bought out and is now part Kraft (the Cadbury end) and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (the Schweppes end). Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is not rated by Responsible Shopper but from what I have read is mixed good and bad. They probably are better than most of the beverage companies.

Of course these days I mainly drink tap water...though with Republicans in office again even THAT may become dangerous to drink.

The worst beverage companies are PepsiCo, CocaCola and Nestlé. Nestle has been one of the world's worst companies for decades now, and is in many ways the epitome of irresponible business practices. Coca Cola is a close second for world's worst company next to Nestle. Both have numerous lawsuits and boycotts around the world. Although Pepsico is among the worst in many ways, I should note it has made the largest purchase of green energy in history, enough to power 100 percent of its energy needs, which clearly puts it above CocaCola and Nestle.

I would advise boycotting Coca Cola and Nestle products at all costs. Beyond that not sure there is a lot to choose from among the big companies.

BIG BOX RETAILERS:

Not surprisingly NONE are listed as good. Not even CostCo, which many progressives like as an alternative to WalMart, is really all that good. But the VERY WORST is of course WalMart, with pretty much failing grades across the board. Their recent efforts at greenwashing have brought their environmental score all the way up to a "D." WalMart has put a lot of money into reforming its image, but this has mostly been nothing more than bullshit, green washing and false advertising.

To quote just a few of the horrible things Wal Mart does (from the Responsible Shopper website):

Due to low wages and negligible benefits, thousands of Wal-Mart employees are dependent on public assistance to meet their basic needs, and American taxpayers eventually subsidize Wal-Mart's low prices. [EDITOR'S NOTE: of course Wal Mart ALSO supports right wing politicians who want to CUT those very public assistance programs that Wal Mart forces their employees to depend upon!]

• Wal-Mart hurts U.S. communities by undercutting local merchants and increasing urban sprawl, and its suppliers have been cited for labor and human rights violations.

• Wal-Mart has been repreatedly accused of union busting in the US and Canada, and of using a "Labor Relations Team" that stops Wal-Mart workers from unionizing.

• Wal-Mart's overseas suppliers have been repeatedly accused of using sweatshop labor.

• A recent investigation by the AFL-CIO affiliated Solidarity Center found that Wal-Mart is sourcing shrimp from plants in Thailand and Bangladesh where workers as young as 8 years old are subject to sweatshop conditions.

Wal Mart is rock bottom as a company. KMart (a store I actually like and have found some amazingly high quality products in) is almost, but not quite, as bad. I actually wish I could recommend KMart over WalMart but they would have to improve their practices vis a vis the environment, sweat shops, etc. before I could do that.

CostCo comes in middle of the range for Big Box stores along with Target. From what I can tell, the main thing bringing down their scores is a gender discrimination lawsuit. Perhaps if they improved their gender equality policies they would actually look pretty good. One excellent thing about CostCo that moves them up in my view is:

• Costco employees enjoy high wages, the average is $15.97 an hour, and health benefits, including a health care coverage rate of 82 percent.
No other Big Box store rivals CostCo in terms of how they treat their employees.

I do have to say that the big ticket items I have bought from K-Mart (microwaves, phones, pots and pans, etc.) have lasted the test of time amazingly well. K-mart may not be a good company overall, but my personal experience has been that they have products that are cheap but last a long, long time.

Big lots and Kohl's are at the top of the list, though they both still score poorly, and I think CostCo could beat them if they improved their gender equality policies. Big Lots may not have as awful labor policies as Wal Mart, but definitely not as good as CostCo and they have been the target of a sexual harrassment lawsuit. Kohl's also has poor labor policies and is very poorly rated by the NAACP.

All said, Responsible Shopper puts Big Lots at the top, I put CostCo, but Wal Mart is unquestionably the worst and should be avoided at all costs.

BOOKS:

Here you are almost certainly best off shopping at your local bookstore, but I admit I love ordering online. I liked Amazon at first and was among their first and most avid customers. But they have turned out to be a pretty bad company and generally support Republicans. So I have stopped buying from Amazon.

According to Responsible Shopper Borders is the best of the big booksellers but they have gone under. Barnes and Noble comes in second and I do like them. Amazon is the worst. Which is sad because I was one of the early Amazon customers, but have felt I have to drop them now. Among the bad practices of Amazon are:

• In 2002 Amazon.com came under fire for using its computer software subsidiary to collect sensitive data from online shoppers.

• Amazon fired 300 customer service representatives in Seattle when they talked of forming a union, and others were penalized for revealing negative information about the company.

I wish Amazon would do better so I could go back to patronizing them!

CLEANING PRODUCTS:

Another category where there really are no good ones. There also seem to be far fewer companies in this category than I remember...probably due to buyouts and mergers. I am lucky. At my local food co-op I can get Seventh Generation products at a reasonable cost. Seventh Generation, at least for basic cleaning, laundry and bathroom products, is excellent. They aren't cheap, but you can often cut down on the cost by buying larger quantities and they do the job safely.

Of the big cleaning products brands, Colgate Palmolive (includes Tom's of Maine, so they are no longer a small company) is mediocre, but better by far than its rival, Procter & Gamble (includes Clairol and Gillette). Colgate Palmolive no longer tests on animals while Procter & Gamble does. This is not one of my highest issues, but when it comes to these kinds of products (as opposed to medical science) I greatly prefer to avoid products tested on animals and I am sure many of my readers will feel even more strongly than I do. But Proctor and Gamble goes even further. They actually fight against chemical safety laws for HUMANS.

Advice: try to find Seventh Generation at a reasonable price. They are the number one SAFE and environmentally sound cleaning product company in the US. And their products really are good. Next to Seventh Generation, Colgate Palmolive is the company of choice (distant second), and Procter & Gamble, probably thanks to Dick Cheney's involvement on their board, is now rock bottom.

CLOTHING:

Big category here...and in this case to some degree (not completely) you pay more for better products. And by better I mean both quality AND social responsibility.

The reasonably good companies (not great) are Timberland, LLBean, Eddie Bauer and J Crew. Sometime back I had an LL Bean credit card that gave me free shipping and discounts, and if I combined that with sales they had I'd get some good stuff at reasonable prices. So these companies CAN be good deals particularly since their products usually last. My wife likes them just because of quality.

Levi Strauss is mediocre, but not as bad as many companies.

The rock bottom are The Gap (includes Banana Republic and Old Navy), Disney and Wal-Mart. These are really awful companies and should just plain be avoided. Also bad but not quite rock bottom are Polo Ralph Lauren, Kohl's, Macy's, Hanes, Jones Apparel, and JC Penney. I have to admit that, though I am generally fine buying most of my clothes from better companies, it is REALLY hard to find socks and underwear at a reasonable price without going for something like JC Penny.

COFFEE: Even more critical to Progressives than alcohol!

Here again, no big company suits my needs for balancing fair trade, environmental practices, cost and quality. I'm lucky in that I can get completely fair trade, high quality, organic coffee at my local food co-op for a price not too far above lousy store bought coffee. But before that I bought in bulk (5 lb bags...and yes my wife and I can go through that pretty quickly) online through an excellent company called Dean's Beans. The price isn't too high and the coffee is excellent, fair trade and often shade grown...and the company is often engaged in extremely good outreach to their growers, helping them organize into effective cooperatives and trying to cut out some of the middle men. I highly recommend them.

I have also gotten into a really, really good coffee from a co-op in Uganda called Mirembe Kawomera which is fair trade and really amazingly good. It isn't cheap but it is very high quality and it brings together Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities in Uganda towards a common, fair trade goal. Well worth a try.

In terms of the large companies, the two top (though still mediocre) companies are ones that used to be worse but have come up a little in recent years: Kraft and Starbucks. Again, they aren't great companies, but if you aren't buying from something like Deans Beans, they may be the best you can do without paying a huge amount per pound.

The worst companies for coffee are Sara Lee, Procter & Gamble, and Nestlé. Nestle is one of the worst companies in the world hands down, and has been for decades. Best to avoid them at all costs. Procter & Gamble was good at one time but was ruined by Dick Cheney's direct influence. These two companies should be avoided.

Sara Lee surprises me somewhat. They have looked good and I know at least one top chef in Los Angeles (no names!) who LOVED Sara Lee. But turns out they have some major skeletons in their closet. For example:

• Sara Lee's biggest scandal involved the sale of listeria-tainted hot dog meat that killed 15 people and sickened more than 100 in 2001.

• Sara Lee was implicated in the massive US Foodservice accounting scandal, which involved inflated earnings and cover-ups...

and Sara Lee scored the lowest...on Oxfam's grading of the 4 major coffee roasters in 2003

Best bet: Dean's Beans ordered online or Mirembe Kawomera coffee. Worst are Procter & Gamble, and Nestlé.

COMPUTERS:

Sorry, Apple users, Apple computers is not all that socially responsible. BUT, they are not the worst.

Best computer companies are Gateway, Acer, and Sanyo...none of which I have ever tried, but when I get enough money available for a new computer (the one I am typing this on is more than 10 years old!) I will consider these three companies. That said, even these three companies have problems. Gateway is the top rated company on Responsible Shopper, but has a lousy recycling program (how many computer companies really have a good one?) and has been investigated for insider trading. Acer is great because they are an EPA Energy Star partner but has been included in Greenpeace International’s “E-waste Hall of Shame.” Sanyo seems pretty mediocre overall but is still better than others (yes...even Apple).

In terms of responsible business practices, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Apple are all similarly mediocre.

Dell seems to be looking to improve, though whether this is only improving its image or really improving it is too early to tell:

• Dell is positioning itself to lead computer multinationals in sustainability, and has recently announced initiatives including support for producer takeback legislation, a commitment to provide free recycling services for all Dell products worldwide, and a call for other electronics companies to join Dell its efforts.
Apple Computer is actually surprisingly bad in terms of environment and sweatshops:
• Apple has consistently lagged behind competitors in environmental programs such as recycling computers; phasing out toxic chemicals like PVC from its computers; ensuring transparency; and a willingness to talk to environmental groups.

• Apple sourced from Foxconn Electronics in China, which has been accused of using sweatshop labor...

Apple admits child labor in their supplier’s factories; in three factories eleven 15 year old children were employed

Apple Computer Inc. [Like Acer which is otherwise better] was one of the companies included in Greenpeace International’s “E-waste Hall of Shame.” Greenpeace International

As for Hewlett Packard:
• Despite its early commitment to recycling, HP has not made efforts to support other eco-friendly measures as of late.

• HP is embroiled in a scandal in which board members are accused of authorizing spying on employees.

Many of HP's products are Energy Star certified • Greenpeace recently significantly downgraded its rating of HP's environmental practices.
• HP sources from Foxconn in China, a firm that is accused of engaging in sweatshop practices.

But the REALLY bad companies are: Microsoft and Sony. To be fair, Microsoft has a good side:
• Microsoft made Forbes' 2004 list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" and was praised for its diversity measures, particularly for offering domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.
Although I have known some people who have worked for Microsoft. Although the person I know who has most recently worked for them liked them, most people I know hated it bitterly...though I have to admit they seemed to take a particular pleasure in their bitter hatred of Microsoft.

Microsoft is worst regarding sweatshop practices, antitrust laws and ties to China.

DEPARTMENT STORES:

The top ones (though still only so-so) are Nordstrom and Lord and Taylor. Regarding Nordstrom:

• Nordstrom was recognized by Fortune as one of the "50 Best Companies for Minorities" as well as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2004, and it received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

• Although Nordstrom is part of the Fair Labor Association's monitoring program, accusations of labor abuses continue to be a problem at its supplier factories overseas.

The rock bottom are Macy's and Sears, Roebuck & Co. with Kohl's, Dillard's and JC Penney coming in only slightly better.

Sears:

• Sears' public image is stained by discrimination lawsuits and corporate abuses, but the most ubiquitous charges against the company still pertain to sweatshop labor use.
Macy's:
• Accusations of racial profiling and other forms of discrimination taint Macy's record, and the company has been questioned for anticompetitive activities.

• Macy's does have a supplier code of conduct to which it holds vendors accountable, but labor violations are still reported on a regular basis.

ELECTRONICS:

Sanyo is the best, Sony and General Electric are the worst.

FAST FOOD: I seldom eat fast food. I do have a weakness for Popeye's and Five Guys, though, neither of which are rated by Responsible Shopper.

No big fast food chain is very good. Doctor's Associates (Subway), Wendy's, and Burger King are mediocre. Rock bottom are McDonald's and Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut). Probably better off all around eating Subway over McDonald's, KFC or Taco Bell. Healthier AND more progressive. But I'll stick with my occiasional (VERY occasional) Popeye's and Five Guys.

GROCERIES:

Again, here I am lucky and can shop at an excellent and cheap local food co-op. But I also sometimes have to buy regular groceries at a regular supermarket.

The better brands listed are: Danone (mostly bad but they own Stoneyfield Farm which is good...I only buy their Stoneyfield Farm products), Cadbury Schweppes (now bought out by other companies, so not really relavent), General Mills, Campbell Soup, and Dean Foods (White Wave Foods). General Mills has been a half-way decent company for decades. Never one of the best, but also never one of the worst. Same goes for Campbell's Soup. Both are majorly corporate, so are not that good, but they are better than most large corporations out there. If I am buying in a regular grocery store, I favor these two companies over their main competitors.

The REALLY bad companies are: Dole, Procter & Gamble (can I just say again that I believe it was the influence of Dick Cheney that brought them down?), Chiquita, Tyson Foods (violations of both the Clean Water and the Clean Air Acts), PepsiCo (Frito Lay) and (rock bottom again) Nestlé. Just never, NEVER buy Nestle is an excellent rule of thumb.

GAS/OIL: Yet another industry where there are no real good guys. All are bad...period. But...I guess you gotta buy gas.

ConservFuel in California is pretty good, but there are very few of them. If you can find them, they tend to be cheaper and they sometimes carry alternative fuels. 11699 San Vicente Boulevard in Los Angeles and 150 S La Cumbre Rd in Santa Barbara are the two stations I have used. I think they have others in California.

There is always Citgo. At least you know you are not buying gas from Saudis or Iranians since it is Venezuelan. I am not fan of Hugo Chavez, and he seems to be getting worse. But he remains FAR better than the Saudis or Iranians. And Citgo gives major help through heating oil programs to poor people in America. Possibly the best option for gasoline other than Conserv Fuel. And they are famous for providing cheap heating fuel for Americans in the Northeast.

Sunoco ranks comparatively high on Responsible. But it is clear to me that this is not because of anything good they have done. Their main competition is just plain so bad they come out looking better. Same seems to go for Hess.

BP, Chevron/Texaco, Shell, and Exxon-Mobil are just plain awful. BP used to be better than most, but they have declined majorly in recent years. My advice is avoid all of these if at all possible. Hess and Sunoco and Citgo may not be great, but they are MUCH better than BP, Chevron/Texaco, Shell, and Exxon-Mobil.

Best advice: avoid driving! Impossible for most, but it pays to think about how to cut back. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint. My main reading time is thanks to my subway commute. Believe me, you will see a difference in your budget if you can cut back on your driving. When you have to gas up, look for Conserv Fuel, Citgo, Sunoco or Hess. They may not be great, but they beat the competition.

HEALH INSURANCE: most of us really don't have a choice, but...

Aetna ranks best...Blue Cross/Blue Shield ranks worst. Kaiser doesn't rate well either, but I have to say from what I have heard their quality has come up over the years, but have not confirmed this. I use United Heath which isn't on the list.

HOME IMPROVEMENT:

None are very good. Lowe's is the best of a bad lot. Home Depot ranks next but is one of the biggest supporters of right wing Republicans around. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is the worst. Lowe's is your best bet.

Should note that IKEA is not ranked. I have heard bad things about them mainly because their founder seems to have been a Nazi back in the WW II era, but have to admit I like them and that was a long time ago.

INTERNET:

The three biggies are ranked and all are bad. Yahoo is the worst. Not sure there is a good one out there!

MASS MEDIA:

Well, here I like BBC, Salon.com, CurrentTV, NPR, and Daily Kos. Truth is, there isn't much out there that compares with these for news...and in the case of BBC and CurrentTV entertainment. Hell, between Dr. Who and Gordon Ramsey on BBC America and Vanguard and the show with Ewen McGregor riding a motorcycle around the world on CurrentTV there isn't much more I watch these days. Sometimes Rachel Maddow.

But, here are the rankings: ALL of the big companies are bad. Seriously, Fox isn't even the worst! Avoid the so-called Mainstream Media which has ceased to have any real journalism and has hardly any worthwhile entertainment. BBC...CurrentTV...PBS...NPR...they are your friends!

PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES: it is popular to put down Big Pharma, and sometimes they really deserve it. But I think people underestimate the good they do. But some are better than others.

The relatively good companies are: Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck. The relatively bad companies are: Abbot, Pfizer, and Sanofi Aventis. If you have a choice, go for the first three.

SUPERMARKETS:

By far the best is Trader Joe's. This is the highest rated company on Responsible Shopper. In addition to being a responsible business, their prices are good and the food is of good quality. Their employees always seem to enjoy their work far more than any other supermarket I have been in (happy as opposed to suicidal or zombie-like). They are not unionized but there doesn't seem to be much incentive to unionize so far. They also lead other supermarkets in carrying only cage-free hen eggs and not testing on animals.

Whole Foods comes in second. I really dislike Whole Foods. Their corporate policies are right wing and they tried blocking labor and environmental laws. They are active union-busters. Their quality is variable, with some really awful products, while their prices are always extremely high. They also have a poor record for alerting customers to major food contamination outbreaks. However, they come in second below Trader Joe's on Responsible Shopper. I think I tend to underestimate their good aspects, but honestly they are over-rated and over-priced and are right wing in their policies. Who needs them?

Of course there are worse. The really bad supermarket companies (worse than, though also usually cheaper than, Whole Foods) are: Ahold (Giat, Stop & Shop), Albertsons (Acme), Kroger, Safeway, and, rock bottom again, Wal-Mart (Sam's Club).

I don't know about places like Ralphs, Key Food, Gristides, etc. They aren't rated.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS:

May I recommend CREDO (Working Assets) for your Telecom needs? They are not perfect, but they donate huge amounts to progressive causes. They do Long Distance and Mobile Phone Service.

And what about Vonage? I know little about them but it SOUNDS good??

Other than CREDO, the best rated by Responsible Shopper area T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel. They aren't great, but are better than the main alternatives.

The bad ones are Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner. AT&T is slightly better than these but they are one of the biggest supporters of right wing Republicans around. Sadly we are kind of stuck with Time Warner for cable, though we use CREDO for long distance and, I think, AT&T for cell phone. We've considered Vonage but haven't really done it yet.

DISH network supports Democrats...perhaps we should look into that?

TOBACCO:

If you smoke, there really is no good news. You know about the health hazards. You know it drains your finances. You know it is bad for the environment. And it is politically bad because basically most tobacco products are Altria (Phillip Morris) which is one of the worst companies in America. Just like when you gas up, unless you are really careful, you are supporting Saudi Arabia and Iran. At best you are probably supporting Venezuela. With cigarettes you are supporting right wing politicians who all get a substantial amount of campaign money from Altria (Phillip Morris).

If you smoke, I am not sure I can give you any advice other than to cut back or quit. There is no downside to cutting back or quitting...and smoking is really almost all down side.

TOYS AND GAMES:

Now I am partial to Think Geek, but perhaps that is not for everyone...

Hasbro, Toys R Us and Time Warner are all mediocre. No good major toy companies listed, I am afraid. Mattel and Disney are rock bottom. Now I have to say I once knew someone who worked for Mattel and he liked it a lot. But that was a long time ago. Seems they have gone downhill. Safety issues and sweatshop labor seem to be their main problems.

Disney's main problem seems to be taking advantage of the system through right wing politicians:

• From 2001-2003 Disney paid zero federal taxes, received $59 million in tax rebates, and recorded $1.76 billion in profits.

• Disney uses its political influence to maintain consolidated control of media outlets.

And, of course, major sweatshop labor.

Maybe I'll stick with Think Geek...

So I urge my readers to consider these good and bad companies. The best bet is to boycott the worst in each industry, and let them know why you are boycotting them. Ideally I like to patronize the best companies, but that isn't always possible. So I content myself with avoiding the worst. The bottom line of this diary, above all else, probably is that for almost any possible reason you can think if you should boycott WalMart, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, Coca Cola and Bank of America. Hope you take away more than that, but if not, that will be good enough.

BACK TO PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT NEWSLETTER MAIN PAGE

Back to I Had a Thought.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  New Belgium Brewing (6+ / 0-)

    brewer of Fat Tire (mmmm, beer) is a company that walks the talk of sustainable practices and caring for the community.  I'm not sure how widely available it is outside of Colorado.  Also, Sam Adams has been advertising that they invest in small start ups as that is how they say they were able to get started.  

    Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

    by whoknu on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:06:15 PM PDT

    •  Good to know! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, Lujane

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I also have to say (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, Larsstephens, Lujane, LinSea, Odysseus

      Kroger has some decent policies.  They are mostly union in my area (though the management/union relationship isn't always good) and make a point of stocking local products with a special tag to identify them.  For their produce they posted a sign that shows the season which local fruits and veggies are available. The Safeway across the street hasn't caught on to this growing trend of people buying local so they don't really market it or stock as much.

      Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

      by whoknu on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:10:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have heard this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, Lujane

        It doesn't go along with the wider analysis I see, but it does seem like they are a good option if a local food co-op or a Trader Joe's is not available.

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:14:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Kroger has a real local orientation (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, Odysseus

        my brother was a Kroger manager for 20 years. They give their local managers more autonomy than most national chains. They aren't perfect, but they are better than most. Their store brands are almost all produced in the U.S., often by smaller regional companies. (Popeye spinach, which is a small local company, cans several of their house-brand vegetables.) In addition to encouraging buying locally, they give each manager a "local budget" to use for supporting things like public school activities. (Here they are a major sponsor of the BEST robotics competition each year, for example.)

        The reason they were the good old days: we were neither good nor old.

        by carolita on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 10:38:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Say No! to Annie's bunny thingies (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, LinSea, fisher1028, mole333, Debby

    One company I was surprised to find that was very Republican-friendly was the Annie's Homegrown company. You know, the one who make bunny macaroni and whatnot. I mean, they throw around the words "natural" and "organic" and so just the sound of their products made me think they' were crunchy-granola and liberally-thinking friendly. Yeah, not so much.

    Forgot what I was doing research for but came across a donors page and found the owner of Annie's who gave 99% of the time to the Republican party and to Sarah Palin specifically a few times. So I wrote and stated I could not, in good conscience, buy their products while they give to the very people who want to deregulate the food industry.

    To my surprise, the owner of Annie's wrote me back and asked how I knew what he had contributed (info was open & straight off the internet) and stated the reason he donated to Palin is because he "felt sorry for her." That was it. Say no more, I was done.

    Anyway, thank you for the WEALTH of info in this diary. I used to go to "buyblue" but I believe they went away in 2007 or 2008.

    Strange but not a stranger.

    by jnww on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:24:09 PM PDT

  •  For media, don't forget: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, mole333, Odysseus

    FreeSpeech TV and LINK TV -- both are 100% viewer-supported and the only channels to go to for things like DemocracyNow! and TED Talks and presentations by people like Noam Chomskey, Chris Hedges, Howard Zinn, Naomi Kline, Bill Moyers, and Julian Assange. They are on both DISH and DirecTV and live stream on the internet, as well as many cable companies.

    As for books, the best place is Powells. Their store, of course, is in Portland (and if you have never been there, it is well worth the effort to get there if you can at all), but they have almost everything available online, too. And if you are looking for something specific, they will hunt for it for you. Their prices are good, they ship promptly, and you area supporting a "Mom and Pop" bookstore (albeit a huge one). The thing I like best about Powell's is their online policy -- they don't use tracking cookies to log your purchases from other retailers. (You did realize that not everyone is "offered" the same price for the same item at Amazon and many other online sellers, including hotel chains and bookers? They use trackers to log where you have been shopping online, the items you looked at and the prices you were quoted and what you finally bought and what you paid for it. Not only do they use that to quote you the highest price they can get away with, but they can sell your "shopper's profile.")

    The reason they were the good old days: we were neither good nor old.

    by carolita on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 11:04:28 PM PDT

  •  I now receive Medicare and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    the only drug coverage I could afford is via Humana "Wal-Mart preferred" plan.  However, there is a mail-in option to use RightSourceRx.  Do you have any information on them?

    Thanks for your efforts in posting this detailed diary.

    Dance lightly upon the Earth, Sing her songs with wild abandon, Smile upon all forms of Life ...and be well.

    by LinSea on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 11:33:57 PM PDT

    •  Not familiar with RightSourceRx (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LinSea

      I am not familiar with RightSourceRx so can't help you there. I think they heavily lobbied against Obama's healthcare reform, but then again so did many insurance companies, so they aren't alone in that.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:33:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Way O/T I've been trying to catch you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    Now I know why the funeral home owner's daughter was at the Success Charter hearing awhile back attaching herself to the kid in the oversize suit.  I though it odd at the time.  

  •  I'm curious as to Meijer. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:16:15 AM PDT

    •  Not familiar with them (0+ / 0-)

      They seem to rank poorly on LGBT issues but also seem to do quite a lot of community involvement which looks good at least on paper. But they aren't a store I have ever encountered myself.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:38:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are a midwestern chain (0+ / 0-)

        very prominent in Illinois when I lived there - not sure how widespread they are.

        "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

        by matching mole on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:01:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Based in Grand Rapids (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          matching mole, Odysseus

          "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:02:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Seem to be low profile. (0+ / 0-)

          Wikipedia: Meijer has very little in their "Controversy" section.

          In 2006, 2007, and again in 2008 Meijer scored an 8% on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which the HRC calls "a measure of how U.S. companies and businesses are treating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors." Specifically, the HRC claims that Meijer does not offer "even minimal benefits or workplace protection for gay employees" and lists it as a consistently gay-unfriendly company.
          Fred Meijer profile
          He also was an early supporter of the civil rights movement.
          Open secrets search for donations turns up mostly Republicans and Levin/Conyers/Dingell/Durbin, who are all local to the headquarters.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 08:09:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Vonage, DISH (0+ / 0-)

    My neighbor just switched to Vonage.  He is picky and is pleased with them. He also switched DTV not DISH but the commonality is installation. We are on the top floor and have AC platforms so installing a dish and running cable is not an issue. However, others in my building are unable to install satellite.

    I have TMobile. I haven't had any problems with service but things did get s little weird last year with the AT&T acquisition attempt.  I had Sprint for years and went to TMobile because that where my kids were.  I was dubious but I saw they could get service where I could not so I took the plunge and have been impressed.

  •  Thanks for the detailed and useful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, mole333

    diary.  I especially appreciate the mixture of sourced material and your own personal opinions and that it is easy to tell which is which.  We need more diaries like this.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:05:17 AM PDT

  •  For coffee, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, mole333

    you can't beat my neighbors. Dark Hollow Micro Roasters.Ummm, good!

    "Authoritarians are attracted to equality because it justifies treating everyone equally shabbily." ~hannah~

    by emmasnacker on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:36:24 AM PDT

  •  Regarding IKEA, there was a problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    with their labor practices in their U.S. factories that was in the paper about a year or two ago. I don't know if they've improved that or not. They seem to me to have always tried to cultivate a responsible image. It's just my point of view and I don't have any hard data for it, but I feel like they make disposable furniture. Well made furniture can last generations. I don't think making items that won't last, even if the raw materials are responsibly sourced, can possibly be good.

    •  Pretty much true (0+ / 0-)

      They are cheap but not high quality. For us we couldn't afford to do the expensive stuff.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:14:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've had to buy things there a couple of times (0+ / 0-)

        myself. We all know that the practical matter of just getting by interferes with our ideals all the time. However, if you have the time, which admittedly everyone doesn't always have, going to thrift stores, garage sales and even antique shops can yield better quality furniture for a decent price. I take it that you live in New York. I lived there for many years and antiques are generally pricier, garage sales are rare and I didn't have a car to carry the stuff anyway, so I know how that goes. You do what you can.

        •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

          We got by for years on scrounging furniture. I can't tell you the number of things I passed by, lifted up and some how managed to carry home. Though I'm a bit older now and not sure I can do the same level of carrying.

          But when we needed to redo our bathrooms scrounging just wouldn't work. Plus now that bed bugs are so widespread in NYC we hesitate to scrounge anything. It isn't that hard to get rid of bed bugs on furniture (rubbing alcohol, heat, diatomaceous earth...) but my wife doesn't want to take the risk and I don't blame her. So we are kind of stuck with IKEA or nothing.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 05:26:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Go with smaller independent companies where you ca (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    If you can, look for members of Green America Business Network (GABN)

    I am happy to say that Kate's Caring Gifts has been a member for more than 5 years

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site