Making conscientious purchases

How do you choose to spend your money when buying tangible things?


I have been thinking about this a lot this week, in large part due to the Handmade Pledge being promoted for American Craft Week. Even though this particular pledge focuses on handmade, it is part of a larger movement to be more conscientious when buying things.

Being conscientious. What does that mean to you?

Shop Right

Make your dollars count. As a consumer, you have the power to change business practices. Use it to urge your local stores to carry products that are produced in a socially responsible way, without the use of exploitative child labor. Your demand can go far in changing business practices.

I also saw a post this week that talked about the fact that campaigns like the Handmade Pledge do little to change the habits of the typical person. People need to have a reason to change their behavior. They need to know why they are changing their behavior. There has to be a catalyst for change.

What would be your catalyst for change?

Children in need

What about these children? Photo Credit: Green Advocates

Child surrounded by toxic electronic waste and scraps

Or this one? Surrounded by the toxic e-waste that is dumped here and that many families recycle to survive. Photo Credit: art_es_anna via flickr

Or what about all the countless faces of children laboring to make the cheap products that overfill our stores? Conversely, what about all the countless faces of those artisans in our country and abroad that create a story along with their products? What story stirs your soul?

This is not rhetoric, I really want to know. What factors go in to the decision making process? Are you impulsive? Do you research brands, companies, boutiques before buying? Does price play a big part? Do you buy a lot, a little, or somewhere in between?

walmart low prices

Are low prices more important than human rights?

I try very hard to be conscientious of what I am buying. To me that means that a product was made ethically, with people and the environment in mind. But I have to admit that there are things that can get in the way of me making a conscientious purchase. I have compromised my principles for price, look, convenience, or plain impulsivity. I have bought something with little thought as to where it was made and I have bought things from companies that I know make poor decisions when it comes to human and environmental rights.

Coca Cola has countless labor violations

Coca Cola has countless labor violations including: violent killings, kidnap and torture, water privatization, health violations, and discriminatory practices. Photo Credit: Svadilfari on flickr

I also know that I will not be able to buy everything handmade and/or local and that isn’t the answer to the world’s ills, but if we could all start with one gift this year. I believe it could make a huge difference. Just one. Can you do it?

It is so easy to forget that there are consequences to our actions, particularly when those consequences seem to be so far removed from our own daily lives and struggles. So, are people inherently selfish? Soulless consumerists always wanting more for less? I am starting to wonder…

What will change our way of thinking?

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Making conscientious purchases — 4 Comments

  1. great post! I just posted about Fair Trade month yesterday. I do try to make my purchases as ethically as possible, but there is always room for growth. Food is my priority right now because I come from an area where agriculture is a big deal, impacting our local economy. So I support local farmers, artisans, etc.

  2. Pingback: National Geographic Kids "Human Footprint" Book Review and Giveaway |

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