The Way We Shop
Logan: Mike, do YOU buy fake leather?
Mike: Haha. I don’t buy any leather! No real leather or fake leather. I feel like I can’t pull off leather.
Logan: You can pull of anything! Are you AGAINST fake leather? Or real leather? Is there anything you ALWAYS BUY or NEVER BUY? I think I wish I was a person who NEVER BOUGHT leather because of animals—I am a person who NEVER BUYS fur. But that’s not like, a daily decision I have to make. Or have ever had to make. I guess that’s like saying, no, I don’t buy beachfront homes—on principle. I was once a person who never bought meat, and that felt great. You?
Mike: I think I tried on a leather jacket once and thought, hmm, this might look good on me, and then I looked at the price tag and was like, well, not THAT good! I have leather boots? So I guess I can’t say I never buy leather. Growing up, there was a period of time when I’d go shopping with my mom to buy clothes for school, and she’d checked the tags to make sure we were only buying things made in the U.S. I don’t think I would ever buy fur. Hmm, I guess I don’t really like buying things made out of synthetic fibers—I like cotton.
Logan: Did she tell you why she wanted to buy only made in U.S. stuff, and did that resonate at all?
Mike: My understanding of it is that she had either known people who had worked in sweatshops or had seen a sweatshop, and was like, NOPE. She’d also do it when we went thrift store shopping. But I think it came to a point where we just had to buy whatever was on sale because we didn’t have a lot of money to stay so vigilant.
Logan: I have a lot of respect for people who do shop like that, who choose not to support exploitative labor practices, animal cruelty. I think a lot of people don’t support those things in theory and are against them, would want to only use shampoo not tested on animals, eat animals that had been humanely raised and killed, wear clothes made by people earning a living wage, but in practice, it breaks down. I think one reason is that it requires some effort and research, time that people don’t have. Right now I don’t do any of these things. Like I’ve said before, I was a vegetarian for a long time, and in a lot of ways I guess I felt that was a way of ‘voting with my dollars’—I did feel pretty great about being a vegetarian. But I also felt like, well, me not eating a steak at this restaurant tonight is not changing anything, for anyone.
Mike: But it takes a collective of individuals making that choice to make a difference, and you were part of that even if you didn’t know it! I mean, I am typing this right now on an Apple product, and there are all bunch of concerns about that, and you can easily find reasons not to buy pretty much anything. But I do like supporting local businesses if I can. And I’ve found that I’ve eaten much less meat in the past few years, and when I do buy it, I make an effort to know where the meat has come from, and you obviously pay premium for that. But when I eat out, I don’t ask about where the meat is from, so perhaps that cancels that out.
Logan: I think just about the only place that I say, I don’t go there, is McDonald’s. Which I guess is pretty unfair. Unfair to other huge fast food conglomerates, I guess? Pretty superficial. When I lived in Portland I was good at eating locally and ethically by default—because the businesses I went to were all committed to that. I like vegans. I have a lot of respect for vegans.
Mike: Do you miss that? Having things be local and ethically sourced by default? I think one of the reasons I couldn’t be a vegan is because well, one, I do like meat, but also because it’s something you have to be really conscious about—Does this have eggs in it? Does this have dairy in it? But if I lived in a community where everything was vegan by default, it’d be easier to roll with it.
Logan: Totally. I mean, it’s pretty easy to feel good about yourself in Portland. That sketch on Portlandia about the chicken from the farm that you can actually go visit isn’t really that far off. And it’s nice, to feel like, well, these are the values of the community, and I’m living in the community, and so kind of by default they’ve become my values, too. There really is something special about buying produce from the person who grew it, or at least buying it from a place where the buyer knows the person who grew it, and in Portland, you get to do that a lot without really making an effort to do it. So I do miss that. I cooked more when I was in Portland. “More,” as if I cook at all now. I do sometimes. And for sure there are places here where those values exist. But in Portland it’s just everywhere.
Mike: Farmer’s markets are all over the city—you just have to go to them when they are open. And I have thought about joining a CSA many times and having a box of vegetables delivered to me on the regular, but I am 100 percent sure that I’d have vegetables going bad in my fridge. But perhaps that’s my way of talking myself out of it too.
Logan: WE ARE BAD CONSUMERS.
Mike Hah. I actually don’t think that is true! There is some level of effort on both of our parts!
Logan: Okay, you’re a good consumer.
Mike Hey, you are too!