You may not know this, but you have the superpower to change the world and it’s right in your wallet!
In her book “Buy the change you want to see “, Jane Mosbacher Morris proposes that we can make the world the place we want it to be by simply exercising our buying power and aligning our purchasing decisions with our values.
This means supporting businesses that are trying to be good for the planet and spending less at those that aren’t.
This struck me as a very daunting task as how do you even begin to know where to start.
Morris has some excellent suggestions in her book:
Start Small and pick one area to focus on
It can be hugely overwhelming and in fact, counterproductive to try and change to many things at once.
The best approach according to the book is to choose one category of your spending that is important to you.
For me that’s coffee and fashion!
I know not exactly “weighty” given the significance of the changes you want to be making but believe it or not, it’s still significantly meaningful!
Fashion is responsible for 4 – 10% of global green-house gas emissions each year not to mention the poor labour practices that persist in the industry, so spending your money intelligently here can contribute in a big way to the much needed changes. “Small hinges swing big doors !
Same goes for coffee. The coffee industry is plagued by farmer poverty and reduced biodiversity. Being a little more mindful about your coffee habit means you may not only be getting the best tasting cuppa, but you are also getting the best cuppa for the planet.
And this goes on for every category of our spending. We have an earth friendly choice or we have the status quo.
It even applies to our saving and investing. Choosing your servicer providers and the assets you want to invest in wisely can literally mean making the best choice for the world.
Do your research
It may sound like a lot of work and honestly it is, but who said being a super hero was easy! Things like sustainable production, non-exploitative labour practices, fair prices, reduced emissions and eco-friendly packaging are only a few of the many items that have to be considered.
Here are a few useful guidelines for reading between the “stitching” when shopping.
Shop from brands you know walk the ethical walk
Some brands are obviously ethical and publicise their credentials as part of their mission statement; Patagonia, Toms and Beyond Meat are well known contenders.
However some you may have thought would be ethical have proven to have a skeleton or two in the closet with the following being disgraced in the media in recent times; Nike, The Body Shop and Adidas to name a few.
Thankfully sustainable and ethical shopping practices are moving away from being empty buzzwords to being powerful movements, and organisations like Good on You, Ethical Consumer and the Good Shopping Guide have done some of the heavy lifting for us in terms of uncovering the “good” brands and are building platforms and Apps to help us be more informed in our shopping choices.
Check their certifications
There are a number of certifications to confirm which businesses are producing in a fair and environmentally friendly manner. Organisations such as FairTrade, World Fair Trade Organisation and Fair Wear Foundation will issue these certifications for companies that prove and confirm they are following ethical standards in their businesses including safe working conditions, living wages and environmental stewardship.
Get to know the certifications in the area you are focused on and look out for them when doing your shopping.
What does it say on the label
The label or packaging can tell you a lot about the brand, either explicitly, by stating all their ethical credentials and also possibly a certification, or conversely by not.
Ethical brands are proud of their mission and want you to know what they are all about. They are very likely to give you as much detail as possible, those that don’t clearly aren’t going to.
Commit to buying a specific percentage ethically
Choosing to be a conscious consumer is a big decision as it’s not going to be the cheapest or easiest option.
However rather than give up before you get started, start on a scale that works for you and your wallet.
While you may feel your tiny little contribution is insignificant, a little pebble can apparently cause an avalanche, Be the pebble that starts that avalanche to sustainable shopping.
Don’t be party to the Throw-away society
Finally really consider whether you are going to get full use out of your purchase. When it comes to fashion we apparently wear an item 7 times and discard it, and when it comes to food, in the UK alone we discard 6.7 million tonnes of food per year. That’s apparently equivalent to filling Wembley Stadium with food eight times over according to the UK Waste Authority.
Ethical fashion bloggers suggest if you aren’t going to wear an item 50 times consider not buying it but possibly renting instead. There are really compelling offers by companies such as My Wardrobe HQ for fashion and Cocoon Club for a luxury handbag subscription.
Become a food hero and a savvy shopper by buying only what you need, storing food wisely and choosing a healthy and more sustainable diet.
Little changes to our spending habits can make a huge global impact. Take action.