Blooming Society Sunday

Every Sunday I share a bloom – a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.


This Week’s Bloom: Shop Conscientiously

 I’ve heard it said that we all have a choice in where we spend our money. I don’t think that’s always true. We are limited by our geography, time, and budget. Still, when the opportunity arises, we should choose to shop responsibly.

Most everyone has heard of the Fair Trade Federation. Their seal of approval is on products around the globe and their commitment to equality has been spread with every purchase. 1% for the Planet is another international organization making a name for themselves. When you see their seal, it means that the manufacturer contributes at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes. Seeing either organizations’ insignia makes it easy to choose between similar products.

Sites like Shop With Meaning and Green America are great resources for finding online and local retailers who care about the social and environmental impact of their products. If you’re a reader of used books, check out Better World Books. They take book donations and rescue discarded library books to sell on their website. Every time a book is purchased on their site another book is donated to one of the hundreds of non-profits they work with. Through grants and fundraisers, they have given millions of dollars to literacy programs around the world.

Credit: ACFE
Credit: ACFE

Another important measure of a company is how they treat their employees. Every year, the Human Rights Campaign compiles a massive guide based on their Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies based on they treat LGBT employees. Here is a PDF of their 2015 guide. It’s a ton of information, so they have also developed handy apps for Apple and Google.

Choosing where to spend your money is only one side of the consumer coin. Choosing where not to spend your money is equally important. Boycotts have been around since the late 1800s and can have a lasting impact on the practices of companies big and small. Ethical Consumer keeps a running list of current boycotts on their website alongside their product guides and company ratings.

If you do any of your shopping online, check out Green Any Site. It is a bookmarklet that will allow you to donate a portion of your purchase cost to environmental charities at no cost to you. That’s a no-brainer if you ask me.

Do company policies have an impact on where you shop?

23 thoughts on “Blooming Society Sunday

  1. Another fine post, my friend. It is knowing people like you, who share useful helpful information like this, that brighten my hopes for the world. It’s nice knowing there are people out there who care, and I’m honored that I know some of them. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

    1. Thank you, my cartoon Lord. I really appreciate the compliment. For what it’s worth, I think what you do is important and wonderful. You certainly brighten my day. 🙂

  2. This is such a complicated, yet necessary, question. The problem for me is that, hard as it is to go the distance in researching the companies we shop with, it’s even harder to choose between them once we realize that none of them are perfect. It’s yet another example of picking the lesser of about three thousand evils. But it’s still a necessary evil.
    For example, I am at 14 months of not shopping at Wal-Mart. Between their employee policies, international trade policies, and tendency to cannibalize the small communities they set up shop in, I just can’t stomach it. I do, however, shop at Target and HEB (which, for our non-Texan friends, is a state-wide grocery chain). Both of these chains have weaknesses to detract from their strengths, but they are less egregious, if equally unpleasant, to me, so I choose them.
    There’s also the question of harmful trade-offs. Fair trade, for instance: there are many who point out that, while fair trade’s focus on paying producers a fair price for their produce, since a lot of it is internationally based, it is possible that things such as emissions from jet fuel produced in transit may be even more harmful to local economies than the unfair prices fair trade seeks to combat. For these folks, the answer is generally to stop purchasing things from other countries completely. But this means that a good portion of said nations’ incomes might go out the window. Which is also potentially harmful.
    My point, by the way, is not that we shouldn’t think about these things and make our choices; it’s simply to say that we need to be willing to take the time to educate ourselves carefully (so good on the post here) so that we understand just how complicated this stuff is…

    1. Yes, my friend, yes. All we can do is try to decide what is important to us, what we can really do, and go from there. It is complicated and unending and there is no perfect answer or action. But, as you said, we have to try or we lose before we begin.

  3. YES, YES, YES! A subject that isn’t talked about enough or acted upon: “consumer responsibility.”
    Are you familiar with the 2013 film documentary Plastic Paradise? This trailer is from consumers buying or accepting excessive amounts of oil manufacturer’s cheap/free plastic products…

    I was blown-away by how much unnecessary plastic I walk away with from Walmart or McDonald’s, to name just two! 😮

    Wonderful post Madalyn! Thank you for your part!

      1. Was that BEFORE we connected on WordPress? Thinking it was — otherwise, I would’ve remembered that! 🙂

        Your wager is most likely correct because we’re way too busy filling the pockets of oil/plastic manufacturer’s pockets as well as businesses who implicitely abuse the distribution of plastic products. Do you think there are any special interest groups in Washington D.C. fighting to protect (and mislead lawmakers & consumers) their revenues or against the costs of “clean-up” or revisions of assembly-lines at plants? 😉 😮 LOL

  4. Very good post with important information. First comment, though, is about the bloom photo at the top. When I first saw it, I thought there was a spider right in the middle of it. But then I looked more closely. It’s a beautiful pictured.

    You asked if company policies dictate where I shop. And the answer is yes, but more on the political side than on the environmental side, although I try to be green in my shopping habits and to buy, where available, organic and locally sourced foods. But to answer you question, I would not set foot in a place like Hobby Lobby and I tend to avoid Chick-fil-A due to how both companies allow the political and religious beliefs of the owners influence the manner in which they do business. I also try (where possible as a consumer) to avoid the use of products produced by Koch Industries, although given its size and scope and that many of its products are not sold directly to consumers, it’s a challenge.

    1. Thanks, Doob.
      The political stuff is usually much easier to spot and track. Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are on my personal blacklist. We like going to the Farmer’s Market. But for everyday items, it’s tough. There are no mom and pop shops near us. We do our best, but it never feels like enough. Koch Industries is definitely worth avoiding at all costs. I could rant about them for days.

  5. Beautiful post! I try to spend consciously, but it is extremely difficult while living in a small town. I once read that every dollar you spend is a vote in favor of the companies that produce and manufacture what you purchase, so I do my best to only give my money where it is deserved.

    Also, you’ve inspired me to do my own weekly Sunday posts, only with different subject matter. While you cover how to take care of the world, I’ll work on positively reshaping the mind and soul. (If you believe in the soul, which would be another great topic to discuss!)

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