Just Think Before You Buy

The more I pay attention, listen to news programs, and read articles, the more I feel like I have to, as the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi reads “be the change you want to see in the world”.

I can feel myself getting angrier about injustices toward each other and to the planet.  These ultimately are injustices towards ourselves.

Was it listening to NPR and the physician guest on there was speaking about all the harmful ingredients we were adding to our ‘health care’ products?  Seems ironic that health related products ultimately might make us sick.

Was it the day I was picking up my child’s toys and noticed everything had the embedded phrase “made in china”?  That same day I heard a story about a factory in China that was using developmentally disabled children as slave labor.

Maybe it was reading about the amount of chemicals used in producing our crops that are ultimately poisoning us in our food or water and then taking a drive down 5-South and seeing those crops being sprayed.

Could be wondering what potential issues with genetically engineered crops may arise in future years?  I’d much prefer an organically grown fruit/vegetable, I wonder those that aren’t marked as such where do they come from?

Although always aware, on some level I suspect we too often choose to ignore so that we can stay sane.  Ignorance is bliss but once you become conscious of injustices how can you not take action, say something, do something, even little things in your own life?

A simple way we can effect change as a consumer is with the all mighty American dollar.  While it may not be wielding the power it once did (with our credit rating downgrade and all) it still gets a point across.  So, at a minimum start thinking about your purchases.  I’m all about encouraging thrift store finds.  The sale of these items sometimes supports a good cause but at a minimum is at least re-using items. With my husband’s family size, we love to receive and pass along hand-me-downs and hey, once it falls apart those clothes can be used as rags.  When you do buy something new, a new motto for myself is: “be conscious” about where the item comes from.  I’m starting to think more when I shop.  Admittedly, this is not easy!  It takes time and the ease at which I used to purchase things has gone by the wayside.  A want exists and then I find I have to analyze it before I buy.

The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production in Massachusetts evaluates companies’ ecological health and they came up with these five questions to ask before you buy:

* Is the product healthy for consumers?

* Does production benefit local communities?

* Is the product economically viable?

* Is the product environmentally sound?

* Is the production process safe for workers?

Start asking yourself these questions.  We should only buy items if we morally support the answers.  Shop with integrity!

There is no reason that companies can’t be more innovative by designing and producing products with sustainability in mind. The future of industry should be one where they play a significant role in supporting communities and simultaneously working toward reducing their impact on the environment.

Ha!  Asking companies to have a conscience, is that too much to ask?  There are those that do and I’m now specifically looking for them.  Sure they have to make money, it is a business after all, but how much do they need at the expense of human life, health, and the environment?

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result “ – Gandhi