Today, when we go to the market or Target or even the convenience store we are asked 9 times out of 10 if we would like to add a donation to our purchase to save the whales or feed the children or save little Timmy’s music education program. That’s pretty new. (There have been donation boxes for as long as I can remember, but this is still pretty new). It is an easy, near effortless way to make a contribution to an organization that is working to make someone, somewhere’s life a little better while buying our (toxic) laundry detergent or tonight’s (gentically modified) dinner. NGOs have learned how to make it easy on us. Add on a dollar, send a text, etc.
This simple action makes us feel good. But, I’m really not concerned about whether or not you feel good about yourself when you’re buying your (paraben infused) shampoo; I’m concerned about what’s in our shopping carts at the time of said purchases…..
American women hold 60% of the personal wealth in the United States, influence 85% of the purchasing decisions, and are the number 3 market in the world! Bigger than Japan! And even in 2010, American women do more than 90% of the shopping for our families. There are countless studies and market research companies that are trying to understand how to get and keep the “voting” dollars of American women. We all know that fashion magazines are mostly advertisements….you have to flip through 30 ads in a Vogue before you get to the table of contents!
That being said, with the simplest of our daily purchases we are casting a ballot. We are by default acknowledging and approving of the business strategies and practices of the companies that we are buying from. Wal-Mart? Archer Daniels Midland? Monsanto? McDonald’s? Chevron? Or, god-forbid, BP?!
It may not seem like much to be told that women have the collective buying power of an entire nation (and, not just any little ol’ nation!) but, really that is a huge, huge power to wield! We have the power to make or break entire product lines and corporations by utilizing a collective sense of ethical consumerism! I know, I know – it sounds like a lot of work & responsibility. But, to help you out on your own research journey – here are a few websites: Ethical Consumer (U.K. based, but as so many corporations are now global they have some really great information), Treehugger, Knowmore.org, and BrandKarma (a new site with great potential).
I hope that the next time you go shopping you will consider the global impact that your seemingly tiny, insignificant decisions are making on other people, in other places, that are probably far less fortunate that we are – Lani Smith Phillips