Make your holiday shopping list a political/environmental statement
November 25, 2006
Since you are going to be shopping a lot this month, consider using your purchasing power to make a political statement. You might be surprised at how influential your credit card can be.
One of the easiest and perhaps most important ways to throw your financial weight around is to spend locally. We’ve said it many times before but it bears repeating: money spent with local merchants comes back to the community in many ways. Local purchases generate sales tax revenues that the city and state can reinvest in infrastructure. Shopping locally also supports the merchants who donate so generously to our schools and nonprofit groups.
Other choices might be a little tougher to adhere to but can make important differences.
If you are increasingly concerned about global warming and the environment, consider buying items that encourage energy conservation. Buy a friend some of those new-fangled energy efficient lightbulbs or a solar iPod recharger. Consider, too, sending a message to those manufacturers that like to encase everything in multiple layers of plastic by supporting brands with biodegradable or recylable packaging.
Many retailers, both local and international, proudly support a variety of good causes. Look closely at those reams of catalogs that come in the mail at this time of year and search out brands that contribute to causes you care about from cancer research to supporting small businesses in Third World countries.
A little googling on the Internet may also help to steer you away from companies known for exploiting workers or for environmentally destructive manufacturing practices. There are a number of sites that list more socially responsible alternatives.
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The bottom line is that every swipe at the checkout counter sends a message that, collectively, can exert a powerful influence on the market.
Beginning with this week’s supercharged Black Friday through Christmas Eve, everyone from global economists to the corner convenience store owner will be trying to second guess what you want to buy. Let them know it’s not just about the stuff it’s also about how the workers who made it were treated, how the materials affect the environment and whether the company that made it is contributing or detracting from your community.
This won’t make your holiday shopping any easier, but it is worth it.