Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ethical consumerism - I expound

~Ethical consumerism - when I spend money I want to know who and what it’s supporting, whether or not it is ecological, how it was manufactured (I’m anti sweatshop), and if I do indeed NEED to buy (or consume) it at all. ~

Who or what it’s supporting - I take great care to (and urge you to do the same) look closely at as many companies as I [you] can. Especially the ones that you frequently patronize. Find out what they financially support, because they support with your finances. Giving your money to company X, so that they can turn around and give it to “cause that goes against something you believe in” is, in my conviction, the same as giving your money directly to that “cause that goes against something you believe in” … I’ve been using this ethical consumerism strategy for about a year. (If you’re looking for an incredibly challenging piece of literature, here’s my favorite - Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne.) Yes, I’ve had to go out of my way, and put in some extra work to buy certain items. Yes, I’ve on occasion given in and painfully walked away with a purchase from a company I can’t in good conscience support. But overall, it’s really not so hard to shop this way. (Most companies have a list right on their website of the charities they support .)

Whether or not it is ecological - This is pretty self explanatory. For the record, I’m not a tree hugger. I just feel that when God gave us the earth as our domain, he expected us to take care of it. I try to apply the same stewardship to the earth as I do to my kids, my money, and my body.

How it was manufactured - I suppose I am a bit of a civil rights activist (supporter is the more appropriate term for me.) I think of the movie Amazing Grace, my mind goes to the part when the girl says “I actually told my friends that there was slave blood in their sugar…” (I probably misquoted it, if you haven’t seen the movie, you MUST! Then you can correct my quote.) I take care to see that the item I’m purchasing was made in a fair trade/fair wage standard. I understand this is often very hard to track for a manufacturer and even harder for the consumer to truly know, but it’s worth a shot. Chances are, if it’s way cheaper (when it’s not on sale) than it is anywhere else, corners were cut somewhere, and I don’t think it was the CEO’s paycheck. Actually, it’s so hard to tell, that as a family, we have switched over entirely to making or buying things secondhand. (because at that point, even if the item was made in an abusive way, it’s no longer supporting that company. Instead it is supporting something like Salvation Army…) Not to mention, you’re spending WAY less on something , therefore freeing up some extra money, hopefully to give away or save for something important, like an adoption. : ) (often, if I need to chose an item that was made outside of the US, and potentially made in an unjust way, I’ll opt for buying from a small mom-and-pop kind of store, rather than a huge corporate x-mart. To at least support local economy…)

And if I do indeed NEED to have it - This is a good one. I suppose by good, I mean hard. : ) We, as Americans (or Brits, in Tash’s case.*wink*) have such a misconstrued idea of the word “need.” I’m going to quote my friend Sarah, and at first you’ll think, “no, that’s not true” but the longer you reflect on it, you’ll realize just how much of a consumer you are. “Really, the only thing [that you don’t already have] you NEED [when you have a baby] is a car-seat.” (I feel like I should put a “Selah” here) I know that you are intelligent, so I’ll leave it at that, you know exactly what you need and what you don’t.

I’ve come to realize, to an extent, how frivolous we can be. Last April we went credit card free (don’t admire us, I’ll tell all in the next post.) Since then, when I think “hm, food to eat? Or this pair of shorts for Gideon?” the answer is a no brainer. On our one income, you get creative, or you go without. It’s that simple. Next time I’ll share our story of going credit card free, along with a silly story of my pride. Socks.

1 comment:

Sarah O said...

I don't remember saying that!

I like your thoughts. I want to hear more!