Boycott List for God-Conscious Consumers

Don't buy your brother's bloodDue to their labor standards, environmentally destructive policies and human rights records, we must refrain as much as possible from supporting these brands and companies with our dollars.

Don't buy your brother's blood

For years, proponents of a free and frighteningly unregulated global market have argued that all profit is good profit. But not quite. The world has witnessed a consistent exploitation of third world markets and labor at the hands of global multinationals, with ethics remaining an increasingly fickle concept. Horrible violations are carried out by large corporations both in historic records and on a daily basis. Then again, can we quantify ethics or the lack thereof? Two weeks ago, Islamic Insights brought forth an argument in favor of justice and God-Conscious Consumers. This week we present a list of companies whose conduct and history would give Upton Sinclair nightmares.

Due to their labor standards, environmentally destructive policies and human rights records, we must refrain as much as possible from supporting these brands and companies with our dollars.


Once people realize the dark secret of the chocolate industry, there’s a substantial chance that it won’t taste as sweet, considering most of the chocolate around the world is made using cocoa beans harvested through illegal child and slave labor. In simple terms, Nestle purchases cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast which, while being the producer of 40% of the world’s cocoa supply, also boasts a staggering number of child laborers – over 100,000. Nestle has acknowledged that it uses cocoa beans produced and collected by children as young as 9 in its products and it is the third largest purchaser of these cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, yet its direct support and encouragement of the illegal farms filled with slave and child labor continues. Check out the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate for more details.

It doesn’t end there with Nestle. The company has an equally disturbing and negative record with its coffee production. In recent years, coffee-dominated agricultural systems have caused major deforestation within the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Indonesia. This illegal coffee is mixed with legally grown coffee beans and sold to numerous companies both in the US and Europe, including Kraft Foods and Nestle. While producing coffee (or any other food item) in the national park is illegal, coffee remains to be the commodity dominating the destruction of a critical national park in Indonesia, in addition to supporting environmental degradation. From 1990 to 1995, 37% of the countries suffering from deforestation were major coffee producers. The thinning of forests for the production of coffee leads to considerable biodiversity loss. Soil degradation is another concern as the land endures practices that lead to soil erosion, rendering it useless.

Nestle is also notorious for its use of water processing which led to complete villages in Mexico being thrust into poverty, and its track record with baby formula has led it to being one of the most boycotted companies in the world. It is also on the boycott list for many Muslims for its support and dealings with Israel.


It is much easier to ask what Wal-Mart hasn’t violated than it is to list out each and every offense. The list offenses range from union busting, to worker rights violations, to labor discrimination. Check out the documentary, Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Prices.

Wal-Mart’s domestic infractions, such as gender discrimination in promotions, low wages, union busting and a failure to provide health insurance to over half of its workers is an open secret. However, less known and exposed is Wal-Mart’s secret to maintaining dirt-cheap prices. The reason you can buy a pair of shoes for $4.99 at Wal-Mart is because of what child laborers and mistreated workers across the ocean must endure in humiliating and inhumane working conditions.

Daily in the 70 factories spread across 48 countries that produce goods for the company, the Wal-Mart cycle plays out like this: The company continues to demand ridiculously cheap prices from its suppliers, who in turn subject their workers to increasingly outrageous and abusive workplace environments. Workers for Wal-Mart suppliers in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Swaziland have been forced to endure humiliatingly low wages, forced to work overtime without compensation and denied legally required health care, in addition to locked bathrooms, forced pregnancy tests for female employees and termination should workers stand up against these unjust work conditions. Wal-Mart also has no qualms about paying children in Bangladesh 9 cents an hour for back-breaking work for 18 hours a day. It also plays its factories against one another in order to ensure they are getting products at the lowest prices possible. With Wal-Mart, it’s not a race to the top; it’s a race to the bottom.

Coca Cola

Coca Cola should already be on your boycott list for its unwavering support to the Israeli regime. In fact, in 2008 Coca Cola held an elaborate reception at its world head quarters for Israeli General Ben-Eliezer, an wanted war criminal and responsible for the execution of 300 Egyptian prisoners of war during the Six Day War.

That’s only the tip of it with this company. Coca Cola’s violations are as diverse as its products and flavors, including violent killings, kidnap and torture, water privatization and health violation, to name a few. From 1989 to 2002, at least eight union leaders from Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia were killed soon after protesting the company’s labor policies. Hundreds of Coca Cola employees in Colombia have also been kidnapped, tortured and intimidated by paramilitaries for attempting to a join a union.

In India, Coca Cola depleted the water supply of countless cities and villages. For example, in Plachimada, Kerala Coca Cola extracted close to 1.5 million liters of water and then bottled and sold it under the name of Dasani. The groundwater was destroyed and massive water shortages continue to be suffered by the region. Coca Cola and Pepsi Co. were also both staunch supporters and lobbied for the war in Iraq.

Altria Group Inc: Nabisco, Kraft, and Phillip Morris

It is estimated that Altria products are in 99% of American homes and taking a look at their brands and product names will give us a clear reason as to why. Check out this list of Phillip Morris owned brands.

The acquisition of Nabisco by Phillip Morris was due to an effort to cover up its horrid tobacco abuses and policies and in order to retain its number 2 position in the food industry. The name Altria Group is simply an umbrella and cover used by Phillip Morris who is fearful of a mass consumer boycott of Kraft Foods which it owns as a statement against the tobacco’s giants misleading, deceptive, and abusive tobacco campaigns.

Phillip Morris, now officially called Altria is the world’s largest tobacco corporation. It is also the world’s leader in pushing smoking towards young people around the world. While publically claiming it does not want children and teens smoking, the company has spent millions on researching marketing trends for this demographic. For years it has misled the public about the dangers of smoking and its so called “healthier” alternatives are an insulting attempt to kill society, just slower. For years Phillip Morris has been able to get away with selling deadly products and cigarettes because it controls the debate on public health. It is able to lobby away laws and regulations that would severely limit the impact and scope of smoking, particularly among teens. In the 2000 election cycle, Phillip Morris was the second largest contributor of “soft” money to candidates who ensured no legislation would come forward to regulated the tobacco industry nor expose the dangerous side effects of smoking.

By merging with Kraft and Nabisco, Phillip Morris used money made from the sale of their prized and addictive, not to mention deadly product to gain influence and power in both the business world and the debate on public health. A boycott of these brands and companies will put pressure on Phillip Morris to change their sales and marketing strategies and force the company to admit the true danger of their tobacco products. Currently, 50% of all cigarettes sold to underage purchasers are Phillip Morris brands.

We Vote With Our Wallets

The above list is certainly not inclusive of all the companies that we should be careful of supporting with our money. Many successful boycotts have been at the grass-roots level such as the General Electric boycott of the 1980s, the DKNY boycott which ended in 2008, and the most recent boycott against Royal Caribbean.

Show More

Related Articles

  • reader

    is pepsi a similar product too?

    • najafi110

      If there is any evidence about Pepsi, please feel free to share. I have never come across any.

  • Ali A.


    Thank you for sharing your thought-provoking insights in the two pieces. I wanted to wait for the second piece to share a few thoughts, which were prompted partly by some readers’ comments in your first piece.

    Perhaps something has to be said about ‘proximity’ and its psychological impact on our moral reasoning. If someone steals an object right in front of us, or if someone treats their employee harshly and we are standing there, and then presents that object or product for sell to us, I doubt that many would want to buy that item. I doubt that many would present the argument of ‘buying that item cheaply now and then supporting a good cause with the money saved’.

    Proximity does something. Perhaps in such situations we are not only rationally but also emotionally present, and emotions contribute to our reasoning and. more so, to our action (repulsion to acts of oppression in this case). ‘Distance’ perhaps removes that emotional connection.


  • Ali A.

    (cont…) On a similar note – if I may state the following as just an anthropological sort of observation – we also make distinctions between humans and our degree of love and responsibility toward them. Our kids are more beloved to us than others in the neighborhood. We might care for our neighboring kids whom we know personally more than those living in some distant part of the world. I doubt that many on this forum would be comfortable with eating a full dinner if they know for sure that their immediate neighbor and his kids are hungry tonight. But many of us do not apply this logic to those living far away from us… more than a billion who will sleep either hungry or ill-fed tonight, while we celebrate the Eid of Sacrifice and enjoy meals with our family and friends.

    The related questions of course are: ‘how far should we go’ and ‘how much are we responsible’? Some may argue: ‘There are seemingly endless number of hungry people in the world, and we can’t feed them all with our limited resources, and until all of them are fed, which (they argue) is realistically impossible (‘won’t happen in their lifetime’), should they stop enjoying their food? A usual solution that many find is this: ‘We should be thankful to God for whatever He has blessed us with while being mindful of the disparities in the world, and we should regularly do obligatory and optional charity’. But this thinking often translates into an individualistic approach (does not challenge the status-quo and structural injustices, of which we may be a part of)… and even on that individual level, the approach does not change the lifestyle of many…… “Sacrifice” is the key word here: ‘how far are people willing to sacrifice their comforts for others?’


  • Ali A.

    (cont…) Two short clips I want to share here on this Eid, with the hope that they might help bridge this proximity gap:

    [b]Yeh Bacha – Ibn Insha[/b] (Urdu sub English)

    [b]The Hidden Face of Globalization[/b]


  • Another Reader

    Thank you for this article. Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of those who can only scream out slogans and not stand by them when it comes to boycotting.

  • Pink Muslimah

    Nestle and Coca Cola are also supporters of Israel.

  • Ali A.

    “On voting with our wallets”, a question may be asked as to how much conscious consumerism can help solve the problems of global economy, social justice, and the environment.

    Raj Patel raises this question in a speech:


    Here is short excerpt from that speech where he raises that question:

Check Also