Conscious Consumerism: Power to the People
by Michael & Bianca Alexander
We live in a Supersize Me society where over-consumption and instant gratification are the norm. We have become accustomed to indulging ourselves by buying whatever makes us feel good from one moment to the next. For the most part, we are unconscious consumers. We consume unconsciously for a myriad of reasons: to fill our bellies, to fill the void in our lives, to pass the time, or just to keep up with the ‘Joneses’. We consume without giving thought to where our products are produced or where they go after we “throw them away.” As a result, obesity and disease rates are higher than ever, our landfills are overflowing, and the planet is slowly but surely warming up.
So what can we do about it? It’s as simple as supply and demand. We can become informed consumers and use our spending power as a force for positive change. The more we purchase eco-friendly products sold by conscious companies that value people and the planet as much they value profits, the more we support ourselves, our world, and our society at large. This is conscious consumption at work. Conversely, each time we go to the store and buy something without considering its long-term impact on our bodies, our communities, and on the environment, we send a message to big business—and out to the Universe--that we just don’t care.
Being a conscious consumer means letting go of the “me-first” mentality and using our individual and collective spending power to make choices that work for everyone. We know from personal experience that this is sometimes easier said that done. For example, we love our Starbuck’s green tea-no melon-soy-lattes. But we don’t love the fact that less than 4% of Starbuck’s coffee is fair trade imported. Each time we give in to our taste buds and buy a drink from Starbuck’s, we deny farmers in developing countries their fair wages.
So now when we need a green tea-no melon-soy-latte fix, we try to take the higher road. Instead of giving our $3.65 a day to Starbuck’s, we invest our spending dollars in local coffee houses that serve our community—and fair trade coffee. Over the course of a lifetime, our measly little $3.65 a day adds up to about $65,000.00 each. Imagine if 10, 100 or even 1,000 of our friends did the same. It could add up to millions of dollars—sufficient consumer demand to send a message to Starbuck’s that paying fair wages to all of their farmers is just the right thing to do.
If we all worked together to cultivate our collective buying power, and consume more consciously, the world would be a better place. Organic food would be affordable to the masses, so our bodies would be healthier. Our planet would be greener because we would only buy products from companies that cleaned up after themselves. And maybe, just maybe, Starbucks would start selling fair trade-green tea-no melon-soy lattes.
Power to the people.
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