Can Socially Conscious Goods Save the World? [Via NYTimes Opinion]

[Byline: Emily Matchar] Our hunger for handmade has gone beyond aesthetics, uniqueness and quality. In progressive circles, buying handmade has come to connote moral virtue, signifying an interest in sustainability and a commitment to social justice. By making your own cleaning supplies, you’re eschewing environment-poisoning chemicals. By buying a handmade sweater, you’re fighting sweatshop labor. By chatting with the artisan who makes your soap, you’re striking a blow against our alienated “Bowling Alone” culture.

While buying homemade gifts is a lovely thing to do, thinking of it as a social good is problematic. Like locavorism and “eco consumerism,” it’s part of a troubling trend for neoliberal “all change begins with your personal choices” ideology. This ideology is attractive: Buy something nice, do something good. But it doesn’t work, at least not very well. Read more at the New York Times website here.