Follow me on Instagram!

I recently created a special account for Counter Corporations where I’ll be featuring local, independent businesses and companies that I love and support, as well as a variety of products, news, books, and things to inspire us in our anti-corporate journey. Following me on IG will also mean that you’ll never miss another post!

So, follow me @countercorporations right now, and let’s do this thing!

Disclaimer: I know it sounds hypocritical to use a Facebook product (I.e. large and fairly evil corporation), but I plan on using it for “good” and awareness-building about the issues I care about, so I hope to be forgiven this time.

Must Watch!

If you have some extra hours of free time during this in-between holiday week, be sure to check out my earlier post about “How Big Oil Conquered the World”.

Then, once you’re fired up about it and eager to learn more, watch part two: “Why Big Oil Conquered the World”.

In my opinion, these two videos sum up many of the reasons that I’m choosing to live an anti-corporate lifestyle; that is, I do not want to support or condone their (you’ll find out of whom I speak in the videos) quest for absolute power and control over the world’s natural resources or my personal choices, privacy, or income level. We, as the consumers have the sheer numbers and dollars that can either prop them up even further or bring them crashing down.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

A Counter-Corporate Christmas

If you’re like me, you haven’t quite finished your Christmas shopping yet, even though it’s only ten days away! As I’ve started to put more mental energy towards this initiative, I speculated that others might just be in the same predicament, and could use a cheat sheet, so here it is! And what could be a better opportunity to challenge yourself to buy (or make) everything from a counter-culture establishment. As an added bonus, your gifts will surely be more creative, thoughtful, and rewarding.

As you’ll notice in the list below, the gift ideas that I’ve generated will tend to be more special, and budget and eco-friendly than the normal gift-cards and standard, mass-produced items, and I guarantee you will have a more fun gift-buying experience as a result. Instead of seeing shopping as a chore, take some time to reflect on what you value, as well as what the recipient values, and start from there. Open up your mind and start brainstorming, and I know you’ll think of the perfect thing! Furthermore, shift your perspective on this time of the year from annoyance and stress to one of  mindful treasure-hunting! You’ll not only save time by avoiding big-box stores with long lines, but you’ll be able to save money, contribute to local, small businesses, and strengthen your community all at once. Convinced yet?

Let me know how it goes and if you have any other counter-corporate gift ideas to add!

  1. Adopt a baby elephant in the recipient’s name for only $50/year. They’ll receive monthly updates and photos of their orphan straight to their e-mail, and will feel good knowing that they’re helping elephants in Kenya survive without their mothers (most of whom have been killed by poachers)! Link here.
  2. Visit a locally owned coffee roaster, tea house, micro-brew or winery and pick out some small-batch items for the coffee/tea/beer/wine lover on your list. A quick duckduckgo search (an alternative to Google) will yield plenty of results.
  3. Whatever you can think of, there’s someone on Etsy who can make it! From custom-made everything to vintage items, handmade jewelry, clothes, home decor; the possibilities are truly endless. (For example, my friend loves sloths, and I was able to purchase some of the cutest sloth earrings and bookmark at an affordable price).
  4. Get creative and make your own:
    1. Jewelry– go to your local bead store to pick up some supplies, or do what I love to do and take apart broken or mismatched pieces that I already own and then put them back together in interesting ways, to create a brand new piece.
    2. Candles– buy wax, coloring, and flavored scents, then look up directions online and fill your house with delicious odors.
    3. Lotion –I use a base of shea butter and add either marula or vitamin e oil, as well as essential oils like Tea Tree or Lavendar for scent. Again, the possibilities are endless and you can customize it based on the recipient’s preferences. (There are lots of recipes online that can be found by searching DIY lotion).
  5. Potted plants are always a hit! I recommend the eco-friendly option of decorating empty jars or containers you have lying around the house, or stop buy your local thrift store (avoid Goodwill), and pick up some cool pots. Then, fill with potting soil and an easy-to-care-for plant like succulents or Aloe Vera.
  6. If you want to buy clothes or cosmetics, check out Poshmark  and buy from an individual rather than a corporation. (I recently purchased a brand new pair of Toms from Poshmark for my boyfriend for Christmas).
  7. Visit a local Christmas/community/holiday/church fair to purchase a locally-made items.
  8. Bake! Everyone loves homemade fudge, cookies, candy, etc. If you don’t own a cookbook, the internet has myriad recipes available, most of them being quite easy to follow.
  9. Get artsy! I personally love making collages using old magazines. I find that you can make a really unique piece of art for someone using something as simple as scissors, glue, magazines and/or photos, and a canvas or piece of cardboard. I’ll be making one for my Mom this year using a line from her favorite poet as inspiration.

Last, but not least, wrap those presents in newspapers or other paper or cloth you might have lying around! (I also compulsively save old ribbons for this very purpose).

Good luck and happy gifting!

**The image is a photo of the Swedish Tomte Christmas gnomes that my cousin and I made last week! Here’s the link if you’d like to give it a shot 🙂

Day 9

If I’m being honest, I’ve been actively avoiding taking a trip to the grocery store since starting my anti-corporate challenge. However, I was forced into it today due to the fact that I volunteered to bring a quiche to my office holiday party this week.

While I have a theory that I will end up with overall savings by buying less items, in general, I have still been scared of the costs involved with only buying from small, local businesses and ethical companies. At some point I’d like do a one-for-one cost comparison between a corporate”basket” of goods and against similar anti-corporate goods, but for now, I’ll just have to go with my gut telling me that I definitely spent more money than normal. Granted, I’m also gluten-free, so those items are always more expensive (for no good reason, in my opinion. Since when does rice cost more than wheat? But that’s another story) no matter where one shops.

With that being said, my total bill from Yes! Organic Market (locally owned and operated) for the items listed above (+ a Medicinals peppermint tea and second chocolate bar, that I had already put away, and started eating, respectively) came to $71.32 for 14 items. The most expensive things being the honey ($8.99) and baguettes ($7.29). I felt the honey was worth the price considering it is 100% local, raw, unprocessed honey; and I tend to use honey a lot on my face as a healing mask, so I was comfortable with paying that price. As far as the baguettes go, for anyone living that gluten-free lifestyle, these babies are to die for! I make a mouth-watering avocado toast using the baguettes and it is worth every penny.

 

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Another point to note from my trip was that it took me a lot longer to shop even though I bought a reduced number of items. However, I don’t expect it to take as long in the future as I become more familiar with companies and products that meet my conditions. This time around many minutes were spent grabbing items off a shelf, to only put them back from whence they came. I relied heavily on Buycott to provide me with information about the products’ parent companies corporate structure, all of which could be found by scanning the barcode with my phone’s camera in the app. I will say that the business nerd in me was intrigued by various company “family trees”, and there were a few surprise products that I didn’t expect to find in such large corporate structures. While not food products, are two examples that I stumbled upon today:

Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees; at one time they were small family businesses, but now they’re owned by Colgate-Palmolive and Clorox Company, respectively, and should be avoided. For additional information about brands one would think would be a quality choice, but have been “green-washed”, check out this Huffington Post article.

Be wary, friends; and do your research.

A casual observer will notice that I only bought one item of produce: mixed sprouts. And, yes, I admit to loving my carbs and chocolate, but I do, as a matter of fact, consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables. These though, I get delivered weekly by Hungry Harvest. For $25/week I get a big box of seasonal produce dropped off on my front porch. Not only that, but they use “rescued” produce, i.e. items that aren’t “pretty” enough to be sold at a grocery store, and would normally go to waste. Furthermore,

“For every delivery, we empower a family in need
by providing access to affordable fruits & veggies through our Produce in a SNAP program and donations to local organizations.”
Read more here.

Highly recommend it since it’s a win-win-win all around. Visit the website and plug your address in to see if they’re delivering in your neighborhood yet.

Day 4

Days 2, 3, and 4 of my new anti-corporate lifestyle have been mostly easy and fun with just one slip-up that I’ll divulge below. I don’t know about you, but for me the past few days have been an intense whirlwind as the Republican-backed tax bill narrowly passed the Senate, paving the way for significant tax cuts for wealthy individuals and businesses. In the face of this fact, I find that the timing of starting this blog couldn’t be more perfect, and the oppressive political and economic environment in which we live, all the more inspiring for me to fight it by proceeding on my anti-corporate journey.

Friday, 12/1

In the evening, I attended a fundraising party for 734 Coffee – a D.C.-based company that uses its profits to fund education efforts for South Sudanese refugees living in the Gambela region of Ethiopia. If you’re looking to replace Starbucks, or your mass-produced-coffee-brand-of-choice- then this is it!

The event took place at Bar Deco in D.C. and it  was a great night of dancing with friends while sipping the Divinita Cabernet Savignon from Italy. I mindfully avoided big-name liquor companies such as Svedka (owned by Constellation Brands) that are most often owned by large, international conglomerates and mass-produce their alcohol on an enormous scale*.  Otherwise, I munched on their tacos, and purchased $20 of raffle tickets in support of the cause.

Saturday 12/2

In the morning, I grabbed breakfast and a coffee at one of my favorite local, neighborhood spots – Capital City Cheesecake in Takoma Park, M.D. This bakery is owned and managed by two sisters who provide delicious breakfast-all-day and sandwiches, along with scrumptious mini (and full size upon special order) cheesecakes. The restaurant itself is warm, inviting, and very family-friendly. I always feel really great spending my money here since I know that the revenue not only stays in the community, but also supports local jobs and markets. Panera Bread got nothing on them!

Confession time. I’m not proud, however, I’ll cut myself a bit of slack given that when it comes to fueling a car, the market is essentially monopolized and controlled by the oil oligarchs of our time: Shell, Exxon-Mobil, and BP**. So, yes, I bought gas from one of the mega-corporations that I adamantly despise.  Unfortunately, the existing alternatives: Tesla or powering a car using vegetable oil were unavailable to me at the time, and I was left with no choice in the matter (insert loud scream here). I definitely foresee transportation and travel being problematic in the future, as I love to travel, but small, locally-owned options are either cost-prohibitive or near-impossible to find. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it though and see what I can do.

I ended my Saturday with a refreshing iced tea from Sweetgreen. I love this company for their affordable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly options. Their very mission is to:

 “inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food. We know that sweetgreen is a critical link between growers and consumers, and we feel a responsibility to protect the future of real food. To that end, we’re committed to supporting small and mid-size growers who are farming sustainably, to creating transparency around what’s in your food and where it came from, and to creating more accessibility to healthy, real food for more people.”

Furthermore, they are independently-owned and operated, so, with that in mind, I feel comfortable and confident in spending money on their food and drinks.

Sunday, 12/3

Today, I’m staying home all day and not spending a cent. Imagine all of the time and money we would save as a society if our lives centered around relationships and activities/hobbies we enjoy instead of being consumed with consuming? It’s been absolutely exhilarating to remove myself from the hamster wheel of spending on cheap goods and cheap foods, and instead focus on de-cluttering my home and mind to make space for the things that I really love and value.

 

*Stay tuned for a post on anti-corporate alcohol.

**For more information on how it got to be this way, check out The Corbett Report: “How Big Oil Conquered the World”.