Some of cycling’s biggest brands, including Giro, Bell, Camelbak, and Blackburn, have become the target of a boycott by US cycling advocates – because their parent company manufactures firearms [including the AR-15] and ammunition.
Would you buy a cycling product that’s made by a firearms company? There’s a good chance you already have
I’ve owned Giro and Bell products in the past, but didn’t know about Vista Outdoor until now, and now Bern, POC, and FOX helmets have become much more appealing. However, I know little about the politics or skeletons of those brands. Almost all of them, or nearly the entire bike industry, is certainly guilty of promoting skid culture. I do prefer Osprey to Camelbak so I suppose I can feel good about that, unless they are guilty of something I don’t know. I never really liked Blackburn products, or what they had to offer didn’t appeal. Nevertheless, I’m guessing that a large portion of my income makes it way to China or third world companies with less than stellar human rights records or zero impetus for any kind of “corporate social responsibility.” (Gore-Tex and Goose Down come to mind)
Boycotting can be hard, or hard to be consistent with, and hard on businesses with inventory when the boycott/s come. Where do we draw the lines? What we buy is a personal choice analogous to voting. I haven’t voted for Gore-Tex, Down, or wool for a long time because alternatives exist. Nevertheless, Gore-Tex, Down, and wool persist as some people don’t care, or don’t want to be bothered with thinking about the repercussions of their vote, or lack thereof. Like an informed electorate, boycotts don’t work unless all consumers are informed. In addition, the voters actually have to care enough to act with dollars once they do know. If no one buys, companies die, or suffer hits that can force them to change as the boycotts intend. Not only can a boycotted brand suffer, but brands tied to the brand being boycotted can feel the pain if they supply the brand in question with production materials. It’s often in the target brand’s interest to adapt and evolve to public dollar votes to stay healthy. Whether consumers, retailers, and suppliers can forgive them for past transgressions varies by voter of course.
When will we get to a point where we have brand alternatives that advertise themselves as an ethical alternative or candidate against the unethical choices? Where corporate social responsibility tips the scales for all purchases? It’s past time. Until then I suppose the brand homework is on us. Fair trade and worker cooperatives are a start. Best of luck getting informed, and voting how you can with your own dollars. The consumer is the bottom line for change.
- Ethical Consumer: List of boycotts
- Do Boycotts Work? Freakonomics, IPR, Guardian