7 Ways To Reduce Corporate Influence In Our Lives

“We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.” – Donald Horban

There is a growing movement in our society; a movement that is leaving very few untouched. It is taking the form of individuals pushing back against the astonishing influence that corporations have gained on almost every aspect of our lives. I think people are tired of feeling powerless against “big business”…they are finally finding their voice and expressing their frustrations.

You can’t deny that corporations, though not all bad, have taken control of our jobs, our economy, our government, and our environment. But what’s more, they now appear as trying to tell us how to:

•educate our children
•entertain ourselves
•look and feel good about ourselves
•conduct our relationships
•communicate
•spend our spare time
•coexist
•create music and the arts

This is a struggle for me. I feel like every minute of my life is now spent surrounded by products from some sort of corporation! There’s no escaping it and I have, in a lot of ways, come to peace with it. But as our family has been moving deeper into self-sustainability, there are times when I feel extremely counter-cultural and very isolated. Can anyone relate?

However, I must say that I have been encouraged these days, because there is a growing movement. There is a vibrant, emerging community of people taking a stand.

It’s you and it’s me!

No, I may not be able to (nor do I really have the desire to) set up camp in protest down on the street somewhere (wink). But we can begin opposing corporate products and influence in our lives by choosing:

{Not to eat at corporate restaurants}
Instead we can…
-Stay home.
-Learn to cook frugal and nourishing meals.
-And when we do go out for a treat, we can choose to support the local ma and pop joint.

{Not to buy corporate coffee}
Instead we can…
-Find a small company that sells fair-trade, directly from sustainable farmers coffee and buy from them.
-Set the timer on the coffee pot while we’re getting ready for work and make your own at home.
-Stop drinking coffee altogether (yeah…okay that’s a stretch).
-Look for the the little local coffee shop and go there if we have to have a hit.

{Not to buy new clothing made by a corporation}
Instead we can…
-Simply live with less. I ask myself all the time, “Why do I need 6 pairs of jeans, 20+ pairs of shoes, God only knows how many shirts, and 4 different jackets?” At some point I felt proud to own all this stuff, now I see it as a burden.
-Exclusively shop consignment for the whole family.
-Learn to create, hem, repair, and re-purpose our own clothing.
-Retrain our minds…buying that new, super cute dress will not bring me happiness!

{Not to have logos on everything we own}
Instead we can…
-Learn to produce/create for our own needs.
-Shop Etsy. I love supporting independent entrepreneurs. Etsy is my go-to online shop. Whenever I’m looking for something, I go to Etsy first.

{To stop watching corporate entertainment}
Instead we can…
-Make your own!

{To engage in non-corporate vacations}
Instead we can…
-Retreat to nature. There, God has given us all that we need.
-Stop thinking that our children must be entertained. Have you ever just let them loose in the forest? Have you ever let them dig in the dirt without fear of getting dirty? Children are inquisitive. In a lot of ways, I feel like we have deprived them by giving them everything.

{To find non-corporate ways to celebrate Christmas}
Instead we can…
-Institute a Homemade Christmas.
-Remember the joy we celebrate.
-Choose to make a memory this Christmas and not give a gift.

For too long we as a society have believed a lie, that money and stuff equal power. I say that true power is found in our ability to produce. It requires intentional living. It may even require sacrifice. But, what good thing has ever come without a bit of difficulty? Even the blessed gift of a child comes through toil and pain.

In this season, one overwhelmed by consumerism, how will you save money and reduce the influence of corporations in your life? Please feel free to comment and add to this list!

Please find this post and a host of others like it here: Farm Friend , Farmgirl Friday, Gallery of Favorites, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Fridays, Nature Table, Living Well, Fresh Bites, Frugal Friday, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Sunday School, Saturday Evening Blog Post, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Homemaker Monday, Fat Tuesday, New Nostalgia, Traditional Tuesday, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Homemaking Link-Up, Whatever Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday

This post is inspired by this little gem.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

Comments

  1. Nichole's Modern Homestead says:

    I agree! I have been doing most of what you list all of my life because that is how I was raised. We always bought consignment store clothes, and couldn't really afford to go out to eat all the time because it costs so much to feed a family of six. Now that it's just DH and I, we still don't go out because homemade food just tastes better! Have a good Friday!

  2. YES! SO much great stuff in here!!!! Will comment better later. I saw your FB post that you are looking for a natural decongestant. Here's mine–
    http://kimberlys-cup.blogspot.com/2009/10/homemade-vapor-rub.html

  3. Great post!! I am looking forward to Thanksgiving but dreading Christmas! Oh, Ilike Christmas but I fee tremendous pressure when it comes to gifts for our extended families and whether they will be'good enough' or even 'enough'!! I love the homemade gifts but I have quite a few family members that do not appreciate or want them. (So sad!) Still trying to figure out my approach this year.

  4. Jenifer, you are not alone, I have the same feeling here! The guilt from others is overwhelming. Unfortunately, I can't wait until January so the kids will be back in school and Christmas is over.
    thank you Frugally Sustainable for the great posts.

  5. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    No one is alone in this! I also can so relate to what you all are talking about here! It's important to remember that we must think about these things as baby steps. This is a process. Each day, week, month, year we do a little less. Be encouraged today! Your heart is in the right place:) Blessings to you! Praying we will all the strength and will to do the right thing.

  6. April's Homemaking says:

    I loved this post, I completely agree! I am always looking for ways to simplify and lead a more purposeful life rather than getting caught up in the acquisition of stuff. Love the quote at the top of this post!

  7. Once a small seed says:

    Nicely said. I was surprised at how many things I already do. As for Christmas, I love to make things for my daughter through out the year. I usually find something that will work well as a christmas present for the little ones in our extended family.This year it will be a tent that we made for her birthday.

  8. I so agree with everything you've said. More and more I am finding ways to do things outside the corporate influences that tries to touch everything we do. I have made it a point every Christmas to give to a worthy cause instead of buying gifts that don't mean much. I buy from the Christmas catalog from The Gospel of Asia ministry that supports indigenous missionaries. I probably will buy some chickens or a goat. Now that's sustainable giving. :)

  9. Beautiful! I love your thoughtful posts. I completely agree! There are some corporations that try to be "better", but the problem is that they all usually get too big for their britches (my grandma's term!! — guess it means they think they should have more power than they really should) Love!

  10. Sue Cellini aka The Pocket Farmer says:

    Andrea, this is wonderful!
    I've been thinking that an "upside" to this downturned economy, is that it is now COOL to downsize! So many people have been caught up in the race that it was difficult to stop and say "Hey, I've had enough. I want to live a simpler life, in a simpler house, with an affordable mortgage. I'm going to drive the same old car until it falls over, because the money I save on car payments can keep me out of debt and maybe I can put something into savings, for a change!"
    As for Christmas, CHANGE happens when someone takes the first step. Homemade Christmas gifts are WONDERFUL! If the receiver doesn't appreciate that, the problem lies with them, not you! My family started doing homemade Christmas 25 years ago, and I still have a stool and coat rack my Dad made, and the aprons and place mats Mom made. And Christmas ornaments we shared from over the years! So much love went into those gifts, I will cherish them forever! (Mom is gone now). Last year I baked several of Mom's Christmas recipes and sent the treats to my family around the country to enjoy and remember her by. This year I have been canning my own homegrown food that I will also share as gifts because that is the most personal thing I can think of the share.
    Not only is living simpler a sign of the times, but I believe it is an IMPROVEMENT over what we were doing before. I love the life we have now, don't miss the excess one bit!

  11. Elle and Lou says:

    I live a lot like this – but of course there is always room to change our mindset. The more this appears in our casual conversations the better. I think so many people get sucked in by all the marketing and spin and don't really even know there are other choices which can be made. I really appreciate the practical examples that you give. Thanks.

  12. Elle and Lou says:

    Also, I am now glad to be following along ( # 99, almost 100 ) and look forward to more from you. I incorporate recycling and feature eco-art lessons quite regularly. Please visit if you are interested.

  13. I so appreciate this post– some great reminders! I'm also reading the book "Too Small to Ignore" which aligns with the thoughts you express about depriving children by giving them too much. I find that Christmas time is so much more enjoyable if you can find ways to cut back and simplify. As you said, it frees you to focus on our reason to celebrate– what a gift! I will admit though, that, I would struggle with giving up corporate shopping! My wardrobe is pretty streamlined, but I love it when I can update!! I'll work on it… ;)

  14. Cure ideas. I'd only be concerned that about the letter of your suggestions being followed rather than the intent. Even small firms and those engaged in "fair trade" are corporations, subject to the profit motive and everything that goes along with it.

  15. These are wonderful ideas and I'm with you absolutely all the way on these issues. I also think it's important to seek out like-minded people, so you don't end up feeling isolated. Its amazing how pervasive corporate and capitalist influence is and its often not until you begin seeking out alternatives that you realise!

  16. I'm a little conflicted. While I crave a simpler life and love the idea (and the actual doing) of living more simply and frugally, I also know that economies rely on a little consumerism. In fact, whole societies are based on it. Think of times ages ago…The blacksmith buys bread from the baker. The baker sells bread to the market so he can afford to buy shoes from the cobbler. The cobbler hires the blacksmith to repair the iron on his door. The blacksmith uses that money to buy bread from the baker…..

    What if they all baked their own bread at home? Now the baker can't afford shoes for his children. Since he can't afford to pay the cobbler, the cobbler can't afford the blacksmith to repair his door and the blacksmith has no money either. Only bread.

    Its a very simplistic analogy I know. But, the sentiment is the same. I own a mom/pop retail store and think we should all support those establishments. But I also have loads of friends who work for big corporations and its devastating to them if they lose their jobs.

    So, I'm conflicted.

    Ha!! on another note, I just realized I used bread/money. Totally not on purpose. :)

  17. Great suggestions there! I try to move away from the consumerist culture a little everyday, but its hard when your realize just how deeply embedded the culture is in our society.

  18. Moonbeams and Eco-Dreams says:

    Hi. I found you through the Homestead Barn Hop. Great post. For the past fifteen years I have been shifting my spending to companies that produce ethically and sustainably and pulling my money out of systems that do not. Because it has been a lifestyle for so long, like you, I feel no need to protest in the streets. There are some companies who have always done things well. I will be doing a Good Corporate Citizen Series to highlight some of these one of these days….

  19. Well, at the very least – BUY AMERICAN!

  20. The Improbable Farmer says:

    Love this post. My New Year's Resolution this year was to not eat from any corporate/national chains. I'm happy to say that I've made it through with only a couple misses (ok, I can't kick the desire for a shake and McDonald's french fries if I'm sick. My mom used to do that)

    When my DH and I have made the occasional trip back to the dark side, we are overwhelmed with the lack of true flavor and over salted foods.

    As to losing big corporate jobs if we don't shop there, the more we shop local, the more local businesses can afford to hire people who lost their corporate jobs. I am one of those people who lost their corporate job and I couldn't be happier.

  21. Jill @RealFoodForager.com says:

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/11/fat-tuesday-november-8-2011/

  22. April@The 21st Century Housewife says:

    This is a lovely, thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing it with the Gallery of Favorites.

  23. GREAT post!!!

  24. Love this post! It's something I've been reading about recently due to a food safety law that is going through parliament here in NZ. The impetus for it come from NZ having signed up to an agreement with the WTO which is influenced by corporations. The implication for me is that the bartering arrangement I have with a friend will be counted as a business because we barter more than 20 times a year and will therefore come under food safety regulations! The arrangement includes cheese which will be illegal! None of us have ever been sick through eating my friend's cheese. So intrusive. I get mad just thinking about it! So now I'm into e-mailing politicians and going to meetings organised by some of our 'occupy' people. I'm much happier in the garden than in such a role but sometimes you just gotta get going!
    Sue

  25. I have been thinking about this subject a lot. Corporations do not have a conscience, don't care whether or not a product harms customers, and must increase profit margins every quarter. Today, most products that produce high enough profits to be sold by corporations come from child labor in developing countries. I have committed myself to buy local and American made whenever possible. I have not yet shopped Etsy, but I plan to this holiday season. Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

  26. Dawn Martin says:

    All you have to do to do all of these things is to be poor. I didn’t realize I was living a corporation-free lifestyle, but I’m glad I am. Even if I wasn’t poor, I would still live this way.

  27. Consumerism and big business isn’t necessarily bad. How we spend our money, when we spend it and where we spend it speaks volumes. I don’t mind purchasing products or services from a large corporation if I feel they meet my moral and ethical standards. Such a company has the right to be successful and profitable. I have my own business. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist. I feel I have the right to make a profit to sustain my chosen lifestyle and I do that by providing the best possible service I can. However, that’s all I think any business, regardless of size, should aspire to. Businesses that cut corners and compromise their ethics, the environment, and people, that try to dictate what my lifestyle and choices should be do not deserve to be successful or profitable and as much as possible, I do not spend my money with them. It’s all about being educated consumers and unfortunately, too many people are not, blindly trusting when they shouldn’t.

  28. Ironic that when I went to pin this to Pinterest, all that came up were ads, including one for Hilton (a giant corporation?). I know that you need to have ads to support your blog, I just found it kind of funny. Great post though!

  29. I suppose avoiding corporate vacations would include the cruises featured on your page–probably one of the least sustainable ways to take a vacation? Surprised you chose that particular corporate entity to promote? Great blog but as a first time visitor the immediate inconsistency was jarring.

  30. It seems like you have a great deal of support but I naturally would like to add my voice to the throng; I find your point of view highly refreshing and certainly familiar; several of your points highlight practices I have embraced a long time ago! :) I read the “They told her she was poor” post and was astonished at how closely it captured my own opinions (and goals for my self-exploration which I am cataloging in my blog). It is truly satisfying to find kindred spirits in this world as I too feel quite disconnected from my peers and the community at large; it is ironic that I must seek community online, which of course requires the trappings of consumerism, as well as time spent on one’s ever-expanding rump! I will have to pursue “unplugging” every so often in order to keep from feeling the hypocrite! ;)

  31. This is great advice, I am doing some of these things already. To heck with the corporations.

  32. Such a good posting! Especially the QUOTE at the end! perfect.

  33. Such a beautiful post and so needed.
    One of the best lines of all:
    “For too long we as a society have believed a lie, that money and stuff equal power. I say that true power is found in our ability to produce. It requires intentional living. It may even require sacrifice. But, what good thing has ever come without a bit of difficulty? Even the blessed gift of a child comes through toil and pain.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Learned to live this way as a result of my own spiritual journey and coming across the TRUTH behind the real essence of life and our world. I feel a great hope for humanity when someone besides myself is expressing these views and alternatives.

  34. So true! Especially this one: “true power is found in our ability to produce”. I wonder how long it is going to take before everyone can understand that… And let’s not forget about food, which is in corporate hands too: in Europe it is quite popular to grow vegetables as a hobby – besides saving money we can eat much tastier products. In our garden the only pesticides we use are made of nettles, garlic and tea. And they work! And we can be sure that the garlic spread the day before on tomatoes won’t do us any harm.
    I really admire your work. – Hello from Spain!

  35. I love your ideas and implement some of these in my house, but would like to do more. Experiences as presents is one I would like to do more often. Local and fairtrade coffee is the best! Love etsy, love thrifting, and definitely shop at local shops and eat at local restaurants to support small business before big corporate places. My partner and I still live very much in the city though and we’re trying to stratal the line between simplicity and sustainability and chasing the american dream. The good news is that even for urbanites and people who work in/around the corporate world, that dream is changing. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions and love the influence your website has on our lives!

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