As the midterm elections in the US approached, reminders to “do your part” and vote on Election Day were everywhere. Now that the election has come and gone, many of us might be left feeling like we could have done more. But just casting your vote isn’t the only way to make your voice heard. You can vote with your dollar every day.
Choosing to buy from companies whose missions and practices align with your values is the perfect way to support businesses doing good. By purchasing from companies that strive to do better, whether it be their manufacturing processes, the ways they test their products, or the way they treat their workers, you are not only supporting these companies that share your values, but you are encouraging other companies to follow suit.
Think about it: it’s easy to spend a lot of money thoughtlessly during the holidays.
Black Friday spending has increased steadily over the last several years, and store opening hours are creeping into the afternoon and evening hours of Thanksgiving. The National Retail Federation’s annual survey found that 164 Million Americans plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend and of those, a whopping 116 Million consumers plan to shop on Black Friday. It’s projected that this year, Black Friday 2018 spending will climb to $717.5 billion.
The urge to get your shopping done as quickly as possible, even if it is online shopping, is understandable. However, keep in mind that each shopping decision you make is a vote of confidence in whatever you are buying, and whomever you are purchasing it from.
Here are some tips to shop with your values, even amid the holiday rush.
1. Shop Certified
Familiarize yourself with certifications that pertain to your values.
- Against animal testing? Look for the Cruelty Free International Logo.
- Concerned about trade and the social and environmental impacts of your purchases? Check for the Fair Trade Certified seal.
- Look for the B Corp logo on food, drinks, and other goods if you find the B Corp mission of “using business as a force for good” compelling.
You may already be familiar with B Corporations because Lulu is one, but B Corps create more than just books. If you are interested in the B Corp mission, check out the latest B Corp campaign “Vote Every Day. Vote B Corp.” Take the Minute Quiz and get your shopping voter guide.
Not sure about certifications that pertain to your interests? Look up groups that have your values as their focus. They may have their own certification, or they may link information regarding certifications that they find align with their standards and values.
Ecolabel Index is a wonderful resource to find legitimate environmental certifications.
2. Shop Local
Keep money in your local economy and seek out local shopping opportunities. Like a farmer’s market or farm stand, where the produce is guaranteed to have been grown locally. Shopping locally can help connect you with your economy. Some reports show that only 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into their respective locales while local businesses return approximately 64.8% to their surrounding communities.
Similarly, according to The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies for every $10 Million of consumer spending, only 14 jobs are created at Amazon versus 57 jobs for the same amount spent locally.
When a company operates locally, it’s often clear where their supply chain starts and ends, making it easy to see if that company stands by common manufacturing best practices. Additionally, products created in your area may be more environmentally friendly than from a big box store or ordering online, because the products have not traveled such long distances.
Not sure where to start to shop local in your area? There are “Shop Local” groups online that are tailored to different cities and towns. Also, you may find luck at local farmer’s markets and farm stands, many of which have requirements that all food and goods sold be grown and manufactured in the local community. And you can find information in local news sources regarding local businesses.
3. Shop with a List
Go shopping with a plan! Even if you are not sure exactly what you will purchase, find out which companies or businesses align with your values. You will be less tempted to shop without intention. Additionally, businesses’ websites can provide information regarding company missions and values that can’t be found on packaging or on store shelves.
The small choices you make every day add up. By using your spending power with intention, you will support change year-round, not just a weekend in November.