Jane Long, 33, typically spends a little over $700 on groceries every two weeks. Previously, she spent that money at Walmart.
But after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, Long — who works as a housewife and lives hours away from the nearest personal protest — is building her own form of protest: She just goes shopping locally.
“There are so many advantages to shopping locally in your area. In the long run, that’s what we should be doing,” Long said. “But cutting out the revenue streams for big companies that are putting all this money into politics, eventually if enough people were doing it, it would cause a shift and change.”
Long is a mother of two and also had two induced miscarriages in the second trimester, both of which required abortions. She said she couldn’t live without her.
Long is one of many Americans who are disillusioned with the current state of the country. Since no policy of codifying Roe v. Wade is in sight, some take matters into their own hands and wield power over what they can control: their wallets.
With the rise of social media, boycotts have become more effective and more numerous, according to Caroline Heldman, director of the Department of Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College and author of a book on the subject.
“Large companies now have departments that naturally respond to the business threat of potential boycotts, causing marketing spending to skyrocket,” Heldman said. “For most of US history, most companies have sat on the political sidelines because they could. Today there is much more public pressure to take political positions.”
An insider investigation revealed that a number of big companies — including Walmart, Amazon and AT&T — have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into lawmakers responsible for “trigger legislation.”
“This is a capitalist country,” Long said. “Don’t let bad people do what they most want from you.”
“People really find power in their dollar”
Shelbi Orme, a millennial content creator, first heard about the idea of an economic boycott in response to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade on Tiktok.
As a sustainability expert, Orme is no stranger to the idea of a boycott or strategic spending – it’s something environmentalists have been doing for “decades”.
“What we now after Roe v. What Wade is seeing, essentially, is that people are waking up and realizing that not only are these billionaire corporations maintaining this system that we live in, which is clearly corrupt, but they are also literally giving money to politicians to fund things that go into in direct conflict with our rights,” Orme said.
Over her years as a content creator, Orme has found that “people really do find power in their dollar.” Especially with decisions like Citizens United, which strengthened “corporate personhood” and allowed companies to put money into political campaigns.
“It really feels like, especially in this culture’s time, that that’s the only power we have — at least on a regular basis,” Orme said.
There’s a long history of Americans turning to consumer activism “when they lack power in formal political channels,” Heldman says. This includes everything from the Boston Tea Party to the various boycotts in advance of the Civil Rights Act.
The recent Supreme Court rulings “go against the majority of public opinion,” Heldman said. This also includes the overthrow of Roe, where after a Gallup Poll58% of Americans didn’t want it knocked over.
“Faced with the partisan stalemate in the Senate and the president’s limited power to make policy decisions, many Americans feel profoundly powerless,” Heldman said. “They turn to consumer activism as a political tool because the political system doesn’t represent their interests.”
From Roe V. Wade to a Vegetable Garden
When people lose their rights, “they look for ways to regain some level of independence and control,” said Alliyah Perry, a Washington state farmer. “And one of the greatest ways is through their food.”
Bartering can help regain a sense of control, Perry said, though she noted that technically you’re good shall pay taxes on barter. Growing food and trading commodities are part of the “homesteader” lifestyle that Perry espouses, which according to a can be viewed as social or political dissent Dissertation 2016 by Jordan Travis Radke of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Perry is also a garden consultant. She said in June that she’s noticed a surge in interest from younger women in their 20s and 30s. Two potential clients hinted to her that Roe V. Wade’s decision motivated them to get into gardening, she said. People want to “disconnect and generally not rely on the system that much,” she added.
Kelly Krugman is one of them. A millennial who works in public relations and Moonlights as a progressive TikTokershe has railed against corporate power for years, including taking part in Occupy Wall Street in Los Angeles.
After Roe v. Wade was knocked over, Krugman hit one Video criticize the futility of what some TikToker called”No purchase July‘, also known as reducing or halting spending July 3-5 to protest abortion restrictions. A user in the comments section introduced her to Progressive Shopper, which breaks down brands’ political contributions.
“You start to wonder, ‘Why am I contributing and who am I contributing to?'” she said. “It’s all about the money.”
She searched Progressive Shopper for places to shop and eat. Now, Krugman skips the Taco Bell Doritos taco, which she ate throughout her pregnancy, and does most of her shopping at Costco, which she says has a good record of political donations and employees and benefits. She said her main hope is that boycotts will help people communicate their opinions with companies.
Krugman is also considering growing her own food.
“Why doesn’t everyone know how to grow a tomato?” said Krugman. “Most of us are sitting on some kind of land that we could grow things on.”
Heldman believes consumer activism will play “a key role” in politics in the years to come, especially as Americans “are frustrated with a political system that doesn’t reflect majority rule.”
“I don’t see our ability to bring down a monster like Amazon,” said Orme, the sustainability expert. “I don’t think the US, or just Western culture in general, is willing to be uncomfortable long enough to make a change. So at the end of the day, we’re really hoping to get just enough people to care, to get politicians to listen to us.”