On World AIDS Day

Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day. It’s a day meant to highlight the worldwide epidemic of HIV/AIDS. The video above was created at the 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City as part of their campaign to encourage action.
You’ve probably seen the Starbucks campaign for World AIDS day, where 5 cents of every cup of coffee will be donated to The Global Fund.
I’ve written before about these types of consumer driven philanthropies and I think they are more about the company’s image than a real desire to make a large impact. Along that vein, there is a counter campaign, Buy Less Crap. From their website:

Shopping is not a solution. Buy (less). Give More. Join us in rejecting the ti(red) notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering. We invite you to donate directly to the (RED) campaign’s beneficiary The Global Fund and to these other charitable causes…without consuming.

So on World AIDS day, think about donating the money you would have spent on a cup of Starbucks coffee directly to the Global Fund.

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7 Comments

  1. Courtney Stoker
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Did you hear that George Bush is receiving an “International Medal of Peace” on this World AIDS Day?
    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/travesty_bush_to_receive_international_medal_of_peace_on_20th_world_aids/

  2. Suzy
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    oh please. This society is a consumer driven society. We’re like infants always wanting more things to chew on. The fact that people recognize this and do something about it in order to solve some of the world’s problems is an ingenious plan.
    If you are making just enough money to get by, there’s very little room to donate unless you do it by getting something in return. And even if you’re making more than enough money, LOTS of people are greedy bastards who just do it to show that they ‘care’ about a disease or a certain topic, but at least they donated.
    I think more companies need to do things like starbucks is doing because then at least people show up and get a cup.
    There is an overestimation about how much the average american actually cares about things that don’t directly affect them.

  3. Danyell
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    While a lot of what you’re saying is true, what I find disturbing is that you find nothing wrong with it.
    Firstly, the concept of charity IS the very notion of giving and not receiving anything in return. If you’re not willing to do that when you shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking what you’re dong is charity. It’s simply nicer shopping.
    I actually have a problem with being a society of consumption. And I’m not convinced that companies who give a “portion” of proceeds to charities give a significant portion or really care about the cause. All they’ve done is found another way to dupe consumers into buying more crap. And when it comes to some of those “(red)” companies (like the Gap), I find t confusing that they’ll collect donation to help those suffering in Africa, while using Asian sweatshop labor to make their products. It doesn’t add up. As much as I feel for the plight of poverty and the AIDS epidemic in many African countries, the fact is it’s not new. But American’s caring about it is because now it’s trendy.

  4. Suzy
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Who ever said that I didn’t have a problem with it? I sure didn’t.
    You also made my point for me. Americans are caring about it because its trendy. I don’t see a problem with jumping on that bandwagon in order to actually help the less fortunate while its still trendy. Even if they don’t care, they’re still supporting it and giving money to it. Isn’t that what matters in the long run?
    You can’t be too idealistic when talking about an entire society. People give what they want to give, but the fact that they give anything is what matters. People like you may donate the price of a cup of coffee or a t-shirt to the actual charity, but people that I grew up with and went to high school and college with sure as hell wouldn’t. They would just donate if it came with a t-shirt or a cup of coffee.

  5. cordelia9889
    Posted December 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Suzy here. Individuals very rarely do anything totally altruistic; corporations never do. So you can complain that, say, the Gap (RED) campaign spends more on advertising than they donate, but the alternative is them spending the same amount to advertise a different product and not donating anything. Campaigns like these are beneficial to the company (sales and good PR), they give the consumer something they want, and they benefit someone in need in the process. And who cares whether that counts as “charity”, or whether Starbucks actually cares about AIDS patients? I guarantee you, the people who benefit from this sort of thing do not have the luxury of giving a shit about any of that.

  6. Danyell
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    But still, even you get to say ‘oh isn’t that nice, I get to help via buying stuff’ from a company that benefits one kind of people while abusing another, aren’t you also supporting their more wicked practices? Gap abuses Asian sweatshop workers, Starbucks abuses Latin & South American coffee growers/suppliers. These practices will remain in place long after the trend of giving has died and they’ve managed to hold onto the same customers. And I really don’t see it as average people trying to do something nice in the only way they know how. I see it as the average consumer trying to justify more over consumption.

  7. tpaperny
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Why you should boycott Starbucks on World Aids Day (or why you hopefully already did…):
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=35248749635

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