I strive to be a Good Samaritan and member of my community. I try to help out the homeless on the street, recycle and vote. But there is one area in which I definitely miss the mark: my spending habits. And I do not believe I am alone on this. Many of us don’t know what our money really goes to.
Often times, we pull out our wallets worrying much more about spending the money than where the money goes after we’ve spent it. But this has major implications on the world.
Without even realizing it, we are spending our money on equality, racism, animal rights, animal cruelty, child labor, women’s rights, the list goes on.
But, brands do listen when we speak up. Tarte Cosmetics is one brand that has certainly changed the public’s spending habits. In 2016, Tarte released their new line ‘Shape Tape’ which came in a variety of products including concealer and foundation. This range became so popular that, for a time after it launched, the concealer was sold nearly every twenty seconds. It was a huge success for Tarte.
The African-American beauty community, though, noticed a large problem with the shade range the Tarte collection offered. There were only three deep skin-toned foundations. People were buying a product which neglected consumers of color.
Consumers merely thought they were buying a product, but they weren’t. By purchasing this foundation they were simultaneously reassuring the brand that it was okay to forget about a substantial portion of of the American population. But, thanks to pushback from the African-American beauty community, Tarte has since added more darker shades to Shape Tape range.
Does that make up for the message they sent? You decide. The beauty community made a difference with their voices, but we could have made it faster with our wallets.
Every item you buy that comes in skin-tone shades is subject to this issue. Companies that make makeup, bandages and gauze are all saying something when they come out with only white shades or truly representative ranges of shades. And when you buy these products you are conveying a message back.
This issue doesn’t just affect people. Another population facing the consequences of our actions is animals. It has become common knowledge that some companies test on animals and use animal products, but the magnitude of the issue is dangerously underestimated. According to the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, over 100 million animals are “burned, crippled, poisoned, and abused in US labs every year” in order to make the products we use everyday. Humane Society International notes that this 100 million doesn’t even include the near 90% of animals that aren’t figured into national statistics because they’ve been kidnapped.
Here’s a list of products that test on animals, including Windex, Kleenex and Vaseline. Chances are that you buy things on this list. Of course you could look at this and say, well toothpaste comes in a small tube, it’s not that much product, how much damage am I really doing? But here’s the thing. How many different brands of toothpaste have you used in your life? Two? Three? Not a lot. We find a toothpaste we like and we stick with it for most of our lives. We become a loyal customer and after a few years we have put a significant amount of money into this organization that is harming animals.
But there are plenty of better choices. Here’s a list of products that don’t test on animals. You can buy products Aveda, Trader Joes and Bath and Body Works guilt-free.
If we were to see the women of color affected by makeup products or if we were to see the animals being tortured then we would be much less likely to purchase them. These companies hide; and we let them, but we don’t have to. As consumers, we have the power to stop purchasing products that represent inequality or jeopardize the well-being of animals.
These multinational companies will listen to our silent wallets. They will enforce change if we encourage them to. So let’s strive to be better people, and citizens of the world. Let’s put our money where our hearts are.
Dana is a junior majoring in theater. What are your thoughts on brands and their products? Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.