How consumers can leverage change, even in the face of tragedy – by Gerry Chidiac (Troy Media – November 23, 2017)

The extraction and black-market sale of gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten (used in our cellphones and other electronics) fuel the war in the DRC

As the Christmas season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the power we hold in how we spend our money.

As consumers, we invest in products we believe will serve us best. Companies may try to hide information about their products but eventually the truth comes out. Consumer advocacy is powerful in a free-market economy and we’ve all benefited.

American lawyer Ralph Nader, for example, took on the auto industry in the 1960s over the safety of their vehicles. Most buyers were unaware of the often deadly flaws in the products they were buying. This changed as Nader’s movement reached public consciousness. Since then, carmakers have competed to produce the best and safest vehicles possible, because that’s what consumers demand.

In the 1990s, the world was alerted to the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and how the illegal trade of diamonds contributed to the suffering. People of conscience wanted to feel good about the beautiful engagement rings they were giving and receiving. They insisted the diamond industry regulate itself to give consumers assurance they weren’t fuelling a deadly conflict.

The demand for “blood diamonds” shrank and warlords in these countries lost the funds to continue fighting. While this movement was not without its flaws, the international attention aided in establishing peace in the region.

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