I’m not fanatical about reading labels or researching products, but when I have a clear choice to buy something in line with my values, I try to do it. And my purchase sends a signal to the market, just like a vote. And just like a vote, it might seem like my dollar doesn’t count much considering all the dollars in the country, but it does. Someone is watching that dollar, lot’s of people actually, and decisions are made on which dollars go where.
In fact, you might say that spending is more influential on the planet than voting.
And let’s not forget investing. My retirement money is invested in stocks and bonds that align with my values. Yes it takes some effort, and yes I don’t make as much return on investment because socially responsible mutual funds have to be more actively managed than other investments, but I do it because it actually counts. It makes me feel like I’m doing what I can. And it wouldn’t seem right to say that I’m a pacifist while my money supports companies that make guns.
I get that not everyone has spending and investing choices like I do. A lot of people have no choice but to buy the cheapest thing on the shelf; the least expensive option no matter what it is. And that’s never for me to judge against. Yet there are a lot of us who have a little wiggle room. Some of us are awash in wiggle room. And for those of us who can afford to express our values through a purchase, why not make a purchasing decision that not only gets me what I need but that sends a signal about the world I want?
If you are like me and can sometimes afford the product that aligns with your values, do it. Chances are you won’t miss the money and you will be sending clear market signals. Don’t just talk about your “consumer preferences” on social media, demonstrate your preferences in ways that count. You can see this phrase coming, right? Put your money where your mouth is.