Party plan selling is very popular in the suburban mortgage belt where I live. It's a chance for a group of women - usually mothers - to get together, socialise and have a few drinks.
A couple of weeks ago I went to my first party since beginning the Footprints Project. The invitation specifically said, 'no pressure.' And there was no pressure from the hostess, the saleswoman or other guests. There was, however, pressure from my conscience. There I was enjoying wine, cheese and good company on a cold winter's night so the least I could do was buy something small, right?
The party was a candle party and the hostess' house was bathed in soft candle light and perfume. I had determined I was not going to buy anything. I knew nothing about the company and I prefer to only buy beeswax or soy candles these days. As I sat perusing the catalogue, I noticed 'soy blend' candles. Maybe ....
The saleswoman began her spiel. Most of the guests had been to so many of these parties they could have done it in her place. What struck me was her insistence on how good candles are for people and that the paraffin used in their candles was 'food grade.' I felt reassured, knowing that if I chose to eat one of the candles I'd be okay. I'd prefer to burn them and, as far as I know, paraffin candles are not considered to be very good for one. Trawling through the internet looking for information on 'food grade paraffin candle safety' leads to conflicting websites.
That was okay, though, because I still clearly had the choice to buy soy blend candles instead. The word 'blend', however stopped me in my tracks. What did it actually mean? Was it 5% soy/ 95% food grade paraffin? I got the feeling the saleswoman may not have been much help so I didn't ask. These parties are usually for a captive audience, not for a trouble maker like me!
I arrived home wallet in tact, conscience mixed. On the one hand I felt I had the moral high ground; on the other I felt like I'd let my lovely friend, the hostess, down. I jumped straight on the internet and did what I should have done before I went. I googled the company and learnt it was the subsidiary of a larger publicly listed company. Not all publicly listed companies are bad and I could find no actual 'dirt' about the company on-line. However, I'm wary of publicly listed companies. They often put keeping their share-holders happy with profits higher than taking care of the environment, their suppliers and their employees.
Perhaps I should steer clear of these parties in the future.