A few years ago, for a variety of reasons, I stopped buying most of my clothes and household objects new and started getting the majority of things from local consignment shops, Freecycle, Craigslist, Facebook groups, and swaps with local moms.
I started to become conscious of a two main things:
- Buying lots of things new is wasteful and really bad for the environment
- The reason so many things we buy are so cheap, particularly clothes, is because the labor is cheap in many other countries and people often work in horrible and unhealthy conditions and are not paid a fair wage
Now, I’m by no means an expert on this area, but my gut was telling me that something just didn’t feel right. Just because I can hop over to a big-box store or easily order something online doesn’t mean I should. And that’s not to say that I never do these things — it’s hard to argue with low prices and convenience. But it’s really made me stop and think about what it means for the larger world when I purchase something.
Admittedly, it’s hard sometimes to know what the alternatives are, and to stomach paying so much more when we have become accustomed to rock-bottom prices.
I mean, can you justify paying $30 now for a t-shirt, for example?
However, I’m sure many of you would agree that the environment and ethical treatment of people all over the world is of utmost importance, even if they aren’t causes that you necessarily champion on an everyday basis. I think we need to start to shift our mindset, to start supporting small, local businesses more and more; to buy from companies that support ethical treatment of the people who make their products and to pay them a fair and living wage; to put our money toward products that aren’t causing major harm to the environment.
In Jennifer Iacovelli’s newly released book, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day [affiliate link], she discusses “Shopping with a Conscience” as one of six models for making giving and philanthropy a part of our everyday lives. The other five models she discusses — Everyday Acts of Kindness, A New Approach to Traditional Philanthropy, Taking Action on Your Passion, Giving as a Business Model, and Giving It Forward — are all fabulous in their own rights, but this model in particular really struck a cord with me. (So much so that I immediately up a lingerie company she mentioned in this chapter since I really need to buy a new bra and didn’t know where to get one that fit my values!)
I would have never thought that how I shop is a way of giving — other than the businesses that donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity — but after reading Simple Giving, it makes perfect sense.
Giving and philanthropy is so much more than donating money and our time.
It’s about doing things that help others and the world through things as simple as holding the door open for someone to as big as starting a nonprofit to raise money and awareness around a cause that you hold dearly in your heart. It’s about donating money when you can and buying products that support your ideals.
While I do volunteer regularly for a local nonprofit and Sam and I donate money to friends’ races and other causes that are important to us, reading Simple Giving opened my eyes to other ways of making giving a simple everyday act. It has made me reevaluate the companies I support with my wallet and to try as much as I can to buy from businesses who’s values align with mine. Moving forward, in addition to shopping locally and supporting other artisans, starting with clothes I am making a pledge to shop at businesses that are environmentally friendly, are fair trade, and/or donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity. Jen gives samples of such businesses in her book, as well as on her website.
Do you support businesses that match your person values? Do you have a brand your really like?
I received an advanced copy of Simple Giving to aid me in writing this post, however all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Please note that this does contain an affiliate link, which means if you click on it and make a purchase I may earn a small commission. Also, as an aside, I recognize the irony in sharing a link to Amazon for the book. I encourage you to buy it, and to get it from your local independent bookshop!
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