Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Shop with a Social Conscience

Whether you are buying things you "want" or "need," you can at least be socially responsible in your shopping. But what does it mean to be socially responsible when shopping? The Better World Handbook states "different companies manufacturing the same product can have radically different impacts on the environment, workers, businesses, and communities." Every time you make a purchase, you are essentially making a vote that says you support the actions that a particular company makes to produce it's product.
The difficult question comes into play when you are simply trying to buy a white t-shirt. For example, do you buy a white t-shirt from Wal-Mart that will be cheap (and you could use the money you saved to give to a person in need) where your money goes to one of the most socially irresponsible companies or do you buy a white t-shirt from Patagonia that will cost you considerably more yet your money goes to one of the highest rated socially responsible companies?
Though there may not be a right answer, I do think that we should at least take a look at some of the lower rated companies in question and see why they are rated so poorly. You can check out your favorite store at the responsible shopper: http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/rs/ and see how they check out. You also can purchase pocket books to carry with you during your shopping to see how products/companies check out: Shopping for a Better World and The Better World Shopping Guide. It may or may not impact you to continue shopping where you do.


Christy said...

Sarah -- I appreciate so much this entry. The link you posted has been really insightful to check out and made me consider some aspects of manufacturing/ consumerism I have not considered before. This is something with which I am struggling more and more as our family tries to "go green" and tries to be more socially conscious -- our budget vs. our effect on our world, particularly considering how tight our budget is. Also, practicality vs. our effect on our community. Being mom of three, it is much easier to shop at a super center than to try to make several stops to support local vendors. Any guidelines that people use personally would be helpful. --Christy

Carrie, The Modern Housewife said...

I think we all do what we can, within the guidelines of what is reasonable for our family. Maybe it's choosing the "best" of the super centers. Or maybe it's determining better products to buy while we're in those stores.

This is a hard one for me, because the "better" choices are often the more expensive ones.