Retail Activism: To Boycott or Buycott?

Tom's Shoes

Retail Leadership Symposium (Consumer Science 250)
By Students Tory Rylance, Tori Rustad, Molly Russell, Elana Roth, Emma Ross, David Toles, Sarah Rodgers, Jack Ritzman, Caitlin Riley, Zachary Riemer, Bianca Ricker, Rachel Frambs

Money talks! Where your dollars go, or don’t go for that matter, means something. Sparked by a Wisconsin Public Radio feature by Dee Warmath of the Consumer Science department, our class on February 15, 2017 was dedicated to retail activism. Today, more than ever, where we choose to spend (buycott) or not spend (boycott) our money speaks major volumes about our personal values and also has the potential to make a major impact on society- politically, socially, environmentally, in business, and much more.

In light of our discussion, check out some amazing brands below to find a new company that supports your values! Be a part of the movement! 


ADLOA- Women in Uganda

AKOLA- Women in Uganda

If you care about WOMEN’S RIGHTS

  • AKOLA is an online retailer that sells jewelry made by women in Uganda while working to support and empower women in developing countries through vocational training, academic classes, health support, and business development.
  • The online retailer Rallier supports female education by donating a school uniform to a girl in an impoverished area affected by gender inequality each time an item of clothing is sold.
  • Sudara sells clothing that aims to end sex trafficking in India by providing women with safe and stable jobs in the textile industry. A portion of the company’s proceeds also goes to at-risk women in the area.
The Elephant Pants

Elephant Pants


If you care about ANIMALS

  • Fetch Eyewear sells men’s and women’s eyeglasses. At the end of each year, Fetch donates all or more of their total profits to The Pixie Project. The project is an animal rescue, which aims at improving animal welfare.
  • Dsenyo has a line of fair trade jewelry made from snare wire traps that were found while on anti- poaching missions in Zambia. $5 from each item of jewelry sold is donated to fight against animal poaching in Zambia.
  • The Elephant Pants is on online retailer who donates 10% of profits to International Elephant The brand works to drive awareness about the ivory trade and the extinction of the elephants. It one day hopes to use the company’s profit to sustain an elephant sanctuary.



If you care about the ENVIRONMENT…

  • Outdoor retailer Patagonia offers an entirely organic cotton clothing line and a recycling program that takes worn-out Patagonia products and recycles them anew. In addition, Patagonia offers transparency on the supply chain of their products through Footprint Chronicles, in attempt to reduce social and environmental impact. Through the company’s environmental campaign, Freedom To Roam, Patagonia has donated more than $35 million toward helping to create, restore and protect wildlife corridors.
  • Beyond its mission to carefully curate beautiful clothing and accessories produced through a fair trade lens, local Madison-based company Fair Indigo promotes a culture of sustainability from “dirt to shirt.” Most notable, the company supports use of organic cotton in much of its clothing production.

    LUSH Shampoos

    LUSH Shampoos

  • LUSH cosmetics company sends their ingredient buyers worldwide to personally meet with suppliers in order to insure ethical production of their products. These products are sold in 100 percent post-consumer recycled containers. In addition, 100 percent of the retail price of LUSH’s Charity Pot, a specific hand and body lotion line, goes directly toward supporting animal rights, environmental protection, and humanitarian concerns.
  • The products sold by GAIAM alone promote a green lifestyle; offering, certified organic cotton/natural fiber bedding and apparel, renewable energy solutions, eco-gadgets and household items that help consumers reduce their environmental impact. GAIAM also started a program called “Go Zero” that allows online customers to donate to tree planting projects with the intention of offsetting their package delivery emissions.



If you care about DIVERSITY…

  • Kaiser PermanenteKaiser Permanente provides health care and health care coverage for people of all incomes. They were founded on the idea that everyone deserves to live healthy. Kaiser Permanente is a global company that is ranked number one on the diversity list. They have 66.6% higher diversity in management positions than the next top 10 companies. The CEO, Bernard J. Tyson, has demanded a diversified staff to take care of the needs of their diversified customers.
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals works to create innovating technology to improve and extend people’s lives. The company focuses its resources on three main divisions of health care: pharmaceuticals, eye care, and genetics. Novartis enforces diversity and inclusion through management positions. They have awarded 50% more management positions than the other top 50 diversity and inclusion companies. They try to promote diversity and inclusion in every aspect of their business.
  • EY uses its global resources to shape other companies and communities. Their goal is to build a better work place across the world using diversification. EY leaders are paired with minorities across the world to help guide them through their careers. EY recognizes that white men have an advantage when getting sponsored, so they use their leaders as mentors. They maximize social impact by focusing on the three E’s: Entrepreneurs, Education, and Equity. By molding these three areas with the diversity and inclusion values, they are creating better workplaces for everyone all over the world.


If you care about HELPING PEOPLE IN NEED…

  • Through consumer’s purchases, TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need. They are
    Headbands of Hope

    Headbands of Hope

    based on the idea of “one for one”, stating that for every one product you purchase from them they will match by donating to those in need. It started with giving shoes, but has since expanded to providing clean water, education, sight, providing a safe birth, and preventing bullying.

  • Lokai creates bracelets that come in different colors and contain different meanings. For every bracelet sold, a portion of the purchase goes towards their 6 charities, Make a Wish, RED, Alzheimer’s Association, Charity:Water, BCRF, and OCEANA.
  • Headbands of Hope helps kids with cancer in two distinct ways. For every headband purchased, one is gifted to a little girl with cancer, in hopes of lifting her spirits and helping her cope with losing her hair. In addition, $1 per headband is given to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.



  • Pendleton is a brand well known for their woolen blankets, jackets, and etc. For years  they have been supporting not only the jobs of American workers by producing all of its woolen products in mills and factories in the United States, but they have also been collaborating and working with many Native American artists to help design their products. They then put a share of their profits from these products into American Indian College Fund.
  • Hickey Freeman is a high quality men’s suit brand that hand tailors all of its products in their 11,000 sq. ft. factory in New York, which they have been doing since they opened a century ago. A direct quote from the company’s higher ups states, “We make a better-quality garment here than you can make anywhere else in the world.” This stating that American made means high quality.
  • New Balance is the only globally known athletic footwear brand that still manufactures all of its shoes in the United States. Straight from their website is this quote, “As a company, we are proud to invest in American workers, who provide some of the greatest working spirit, commitment to advancement and ingenuity known in the industrial world.” On top of this they are the official footwear sponsor for the United States military.

    New Balance

    New Balance

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