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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Everyday lobbying

People often feel like they don't have a lot of power within democracy these days. In theory, lobbying is central to our idea of democracy. We petition. Government listens.

It’s no doubt that commercial lobbying spending has increased dramatically since the turn of the millennium. More importantly we often don’t know what these companies are lobbying for. Clearly it’s in a company's best interests to lobby for policies which match their values, but it’s also for policies which will make them more money.

Sometimes the policies companies campaign for may create positive change for more than themselves, such as Facebook lobbying immigration reform to be able to hire more skilled workers. Other times it might be the financial industry lobbying to secure favourable policy changes.

We can’t stop commercial lobbying but we can take action into our own hands. One influential way you can create change is through your wallet. By that, I mean what you buy.

Everyday you are lobbying for or against something. Unlike the lobbies of Parliament or hotels our lobbies are supermarkets, retail stores or online checkouts. Every time you hand over cash or use your credit card, you are lobbying for what you consume.

Every time you fill your car with petrol, you are lobbying for fossil fuels. Every time you use a plastic bag, you are lobbying for the continued need to produce them. Every time you buy cheap clothing you are lobbying for unethical practices changes.

Obviously some things are more difficult to change than others. It can be very difficult to switch from fossil fuels to other alternatives as there simply isn’t enough infrastructure or the cost is too high. But plastic bags and fast fashion are achievable.

It’s not about putting companies out of business but influencing change through what you buy and consume.

It can be easy to feel powerless and fall into the ‘what can one person do?’ mentality, but how you spend your money can make a difference.

What did you lobby for today?

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