Much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we live much of our lives unaware that we have, not on our feet but in our pockets, powerful weapons that could not just take us home to Kansas, but set in motion processes that really could change the world. The weapon is our dollar vote.
When you spend on anything, you are sending a loud and clear message to the productive system that says, “Produce more of this.” And believe me, they will listen. Without the consumer; the corporation crumbles. What sells is ultimately what they will provide. Did you see any organic stamps in the early 90’s? No. Why? Because nobody cared. Now there’s hardly a supermarket, corner shop or restaurant that isn’t advertising some kind of organic, fair trade or locally grown product. The consumer can, and does affect the market, and this means your dollars have the power to change the world.
The question we need to ask ourselves is: what do we want our businesses and ultimately our society to produce? Do we want them to produce goods that harm the environment? Or do we want them to produce things that are sustainable, that harness human energy in good directions? What you buy will help determine the answer to this question.
Maybe you have never thought about this when you consumed something. Start now, to think about the content of your spending and how it induces your country and even the world to act differently. Rather than spending compulsively or even impulsively, try to turn this all-important part of your life into a coherent message, by:
- Building a habit of thinking before you spend
- Doing your research: The GoodGuide website and smartphone app is one of many that rates consumer products according to their safety, environmental sustainability and the ethics of the firms that produce them
- Acting in consequence. Be true to your values and ideals. If you believe something, buy as if you really believed it, even if it involves effort or discomfort. Buy things from companies that have radically different ideals that could change our economic world (check out, for instance, Patagonia’s Don’t Buy This Jacket ad), or things made organically and safely close to home. Buy from small retailers, buy products that are produced in ways you feel comfortable with, buy from companies that treat their workers well. Be willing to pay more for products that send the right message to businesses. We are all very small, but together we can change the way our companies, and thus our economies and our society, act.
- Spreading the word. If there is a product that you know has sustainable practices, tell your friends about it!
With these simple techniques we can bring about change. It can be more expensive, but are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Thanks for your time, and if you want to know more EcoHax don’t forget to follow us on Facebook!