You have heard Vote with Your Dollar, right? It is a practice of considering every purchase you are about to make and thinking about what kind of world you want and letting your hard-earned money go toward that kind of idea, product, or service. It requires that you learn about the businesses, people, and practices that create the products. It would have you consider the environmental impact of creating the product and disposing of the waste once the product is no longer useful. You would take everything that you could learn and apply that to your buying choice. The price of the product is not the determining factor, but instead, the vision and values that you hold become the key in making your buying decisions.
For example, say you realize you are nearly out of rice. Instead of choosing solely on price, you might consider the business ethics of the larger company. Do they treat their employees well? Do they provide good benefits and pay? You might ask yourself, does the rice come from a farm where the farmworkers are exploited, or do the workers and their families get treated well. Is the rice Fair Trade Certified - meaning is the rice grown and harvested in accordance with Fairtrade International's rigorous environmental, economic, and social standards? You might also consider how the business handles itself in the community? Or where is this product grown, does it have to be transported around the world—with transportation creating a big portion of pollution worldwide? Then you spend your dollars on the rice that delivers more of what you want to see in the world. You get the product, but you also get a sense of satisfaction that comes with voting for your ideals.
One powerful action you can take to Vote with Your Dollar is to keep your money in your pocket, to not buy what you don't need, and hold back your business from stores you don't agree with. There are those that are obsessed with deals, but those deals come at the cost of paying low wages to employees at megastores or a lack of healthcare provided to farmworkers.
It's your Grocery List
Applying this principle to your grocery list is easy. When you create your shopping list write down Organic Flour if you value the benefits of Certified Organic growing practices. If you value keeping your money local because of all the benefits to the community, then write down Local Black Beans and look for them in the bulk food aisle. If you know that a local business gives back to the community, then write down their brand name on your list. With some searching, you can find out a lot about the foods that you eat, where they are grown, who grows them, whether they use organic practices with no pesticides, and no GMO. You can discover the brands that offer these foods and learn about how they treat the farmers, or if they are owned by a larger conglomerate that may not have your best interests at heart. You will likely realize the benefits of buying in the bulk aisle of your local food cooperative. They have already done a lot of the organizing that you would do - as many of these co-ops are member-owned and the members are just like you. Buying bulk food allows you to reuse containers instead of generating waste glass and worse… plastics. Your grocery list will change. It will evolve as you learn more about the foods you like. Casting your vote in the form of a grocery list will begin to change the world.
Each time you shop at local businesses, you will see your community flourish. When you choose organic, you whisper to the world “I want more farmers to grow healthy food and take better care of the soil.” When you buy certified fair trade, you fight for social justice and against poverty. Every time you buy from a business owned by women or people of color, you help build an inclusive diverse economy. And when you decide you don’t really need that, you let the world know more doesn’t equal better.
This is election season and everyone is being encouraged to vote. Voting is important for getting your voice heard. We get the opportunity to vote every day by the decisions we make in how we spend (or don’t spend!) our money. Our grocery lists are no exception and a great place to start, because we all eat, right?