Ethical Shopping Challenge

So having decided to take on the ethical shopping challenge
for July I eagerly began looking up many of my favorite stores on my handy new
app – the Better World Shopper. Turns
out most of them would have done very poorly in school, scoring mostly Ds and
Cs. I can’t say I am completely surprised
since in my pursuit of more ethical buying thus far I have focused my attention
mainly on shifting to and from certain products and not looked too closely at the
stores where I bought them.

Now that I am looking at the stores it is not a pretty
picture. This app, which is of course
just a starting point in understanding, uses 20 years of data culled from public
and private sources to create the grades which take in account a company’s
overall social and environmental responsibility. And my stores just plain suck at it. The commitment for July is to only shop at
places with a grade of B or higher. Unfortunately
for me not a lot of stores I know, not a lot of stores near me, not a lot of
stores I can even recognize earned that grade.
So what does that mean?

I think it means for me July will be different in two
ways. One I probably will be buying less
stuff. I won’t be going on Amazon (which
unsurprisingly gets a D) to order a cute toy for my kids for no reason, I won’t
be zipping to Target (D+) to grab some extra cups for a party or to Kohls (D-) for
new socks because mine have holes. These
purchases would have been easy and relatively inexpensive before. Maybe not always necessary (except the
socks!). So maybe I will live a little
simpler. Which is good. I can always use a reminder of how easily and
impulsively I spend and being committed to ethical buying will certainly
accomplish that because it is not easy and can rarely be accomplished on
impulse. The second change will be
learning. Because I probably cannot go a month without buying anything at all I
will have to learn more about what stores support the values of human dignity
and environmental sustainability that I believe in. Maybe I could, if I really tried and got
headphones to block out my kids, go a month without buying any nonfood items,
but I think missing this second piece of the puzzle would be a shame.

I want to learn more about where to go to vote with my
dollar.
Research
indicates that shallow or cursory knowledge is not enough for lasting or
impactful change so the more I learn, the more we learn, the more it will
affect all areas of our consumer lives, the more we can be effective advocates
and the more the world can shift from broken to whole. So maybe I will buy a toy for my kids this
month. Maybe I’ll try and find a toy store
near me that … maybe we’ll scout out
some consignment shops and second hand stores that specialize in things that I
used to get at my D and C stores. In any
case come August I will be a more informed ethical consumer.

A month of ethical consuming is not everything, but it is
something. It can be a start, a next
step on a journey started long ago, a resumption of a cause put down for a time
or a simple extension of a life already being lived. Whatever it is – will you sign the pledge?

Some helpful links –

http://www.micahchallengeusa.org/blog/item/the-ethical-shopping-challenge

http://theartofsimple.net/shopping/
– ethical shopping guide with links

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