Shop for Good

I get into random research kicks that lead me down rabbit holes of new ideas and discoveries. That’s how I’ve gotten into a lot of the ideas that I discuss here. It’s how I first found out about fast fashion and ethical clothing, the zero-waste movement, and many more things.

So now I’m all into more research, but now it’s about putting my dollars toward other causes. Many other causes, you know, if I wasn’t a college student on a budget. Alas, investing in products actually worth the dollar amount means that the dollar amount is higher than a conventional store in most instances, which obviously limits a lot of people from gravitating toward purchasing from those places.

Except even the people who do have the money to spend, they still choose cheaper options. They like to save their abundance of money for who knows what, as if a dollar amount behind your name will really make the difference at the end of the day. Personally, call me naive, but I have never sought after a job or opportunity based on money. I do gravitate toward scoring good deals and using the occasional coupon, but I have been blessed enough to not necessarily worry about maintaining a low budget.

With the resources I and everyone else has, we have a choice. Once we have purchased what we ourselves need to live, what we have left over is up to us. Of course saving a certain amount for the future is a smart move, but if you have the luxury to choose between buying a cheap shirt from Forever 21 or buying a pricier shirt from a local business or one that is ethically made, what cause do you want to support? Hardworking and probably impoverished people or entrepreneurs? Or big-business sweat shops that promote inhumane practices and work environments?

Yes, this is where I will critique capitalism. Our new mentality in all aspects of life has become one that wants more, for the least amount of effort or money, as fast as possible. Since we are mere human beings, we are then forced to mass produce everything at lightning speed and always come out with new items to keep people interested. We become bored too easily. We feel the need to keep buying more to simply keep up. But the people who are most affected by our choices are the ones we forget about, perhaps because they’re quiet or live in a foreign country. They have the same basic rights as you and me, but we treat them like cogs in our ever-growing, forever-hungry machine.

When you go into a store and buy something, why did you choose that item? Do you know the brand name? Have you had a good experience with the product? Did someone recommend it to you? Okay, with that out of the way, do you know the brand’s values and standards? Do you know what ingredients make up that product and how they affect the human body and/or environment? What impact might this choice have?

That’s a lot of questions for what seems like a simple task and decision, but we become mindless when we resort to what we’re used to without digging beneath the surface. We pride “smart shoppers” who can buy a cart-full of groceries under a certain dollar amount, but I think the actual smart shoppers are ones who are conscious and intentional with their purchases. They might not be spending the least or even the most, but they are aware of the life that put the items on the shelves.

So like I said, I’m a huge proponent of supporting small businesses, especially stores that carry items from smaller vendors or make things themselves. The people owning and working in that store might be people you personally know, and even if they aren’t, they are invigorating the local economy.

Especially if you like shopping online, you have a world of options available. Some sites that I’ve found include Better World Books, the UNICEF Marketplace, and Global Goods Partners, among many others. Certain charities have merchandise themselves, or if there’s a local fundraiser going on and you like what they’re selling, go for it. AmazonSmile and GoodShop even allow you to shop where you usually do online and automatically donate proceeds to your charity of choice. Because if you need a certain item anyways, why not also give back to a cause you feel strongly about?

Heck, you can even go on FreeRice and answer vocabulary questions while feeding the hungry or use the search engine Ecosia that plants trees every time you search. We can live our lives doing more good, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. I think the effort alone is amazing. We need more of that. We need to expand our everyday mindsets beyond ourselves. We need to question what we assume is just or right and really understand how our little choices can add up. And when those choices add up, I hope you too want to make that sum one of good.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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