I am developing a Partridge-esque friendship with the attendant of a petrol station I frequent. Here is a recent conversation.
‘Just these, please.’
‘Don’t you want a drink? For another eight pence, you could have a drink on the meal deal.’
‘I’ve got a bottle of water in the car, thanks.’
‘But for another eight pence, you could get another one!’
‘I don’t want it, it’s Buxton.’
‘Oh, that’s right, Buxton is a Nestle product. You don’t like Nestle, do you?’
‘No, it tastes like the tears of African children.’
‘Wow. You know, you’re buying these things in a Shell garage. You’re not exactly giving your money to a worthy cause, are you?’
‘I suppose not.’
Needless to say, he had the last laugh. Trying to keep track of the companies who take your money on a regular basis is a sure-fire route to madness. You think you’ve got the hang of it, and you’ve cut all the pernicious companies out of your regular purchases, and then you see a viral video showing the chief executive of the Co-operative Bank punching a dolphin. (Not true, but you get the idea).
I don’t want to live on an allotment, with a solar panel strapped to my head, speaking my own secret language.
I think my children would be even more embarrassed than they already are. But I don’t want my pennies to go towards child slavery, or propping up dictatorships, or terrorism, or any of the legion of horrendous things that are going on in this over-connected, globalised world of ours. I know my pennies are a drop in the ocean, and only have a miniscule impact, but it’s that sort of thinking that has landed our species in the various predicaments it now faces.
Here’s a link to a short list of pretty big companies that are likely to do something nice with your money (like pay their employees a living wage), rather than something nasty (like buy a machine gun, or spend it on lobbying politicians to block environmental legislation).