This is why I consider commercial boycotts to be largely a spiritual and symbolic exercise, at least at the personal level. I refuse to buy anything with “Nestle” written on it, for instance, because of their repulsive treatment of third world babies; but I know the only difference it will make is if I consciously offer up the (miniscule) sacrifice that involves.
Anyway, I usually buy store brands of food — but aren’t those often made by the same corporations, and just packaged more cheaply? Blah. Education is a good thing; but I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we can keep our shopping baskets ritually pure. If we avoid all taint as consumers, we will quickly starve. When large groups of people band together and exert pressure on corporations, they can affect real change. But it does not follow that a single, harried shopper who grabs a bag of Laffy Taffy is committing a sin against third world babies.
What makes sense to me is this: pick a few causes that you feel really strongly about. Make a firm decision to make the sacrifice so you can avoid supporting those particular evils. Stick to it. And then just chill about the rest.
What do you think? How do you handle being a principled consumer when your choices are not real choices?