Thursday, October 21, 2010

Money Matters.

Sometimes it feels like all I do is make money and spend it.  Not exactly making my mark on the world, or saving it.  But spending your money can be one of the most socially conscious and political acts you perform.  A bit sad, perhaps, but not if you really think about it.  As an individual, your ability to improve the world you live in can seem laughably limited.  Voting is a case in point that everyone will understand.  And most of us are too busy or lazy to engage in any extra-curricular altruistic or charitable activities.  But what we all do, all the time, is spend money on ourselves and our loved ones.  And unlike voting, what we spend our money on is not inconsequential.  (Calm down, I vote - thereby apparently earning my right to complain about the state of the nation.  Every election, I throw away both my votes on the Green Party; only to watch them get passed over yet again like a homely wallflower.)

In a democratic capitalist society, most significant change or progress is actually brought about by businesses seeing a demand in the market place or a threat to their all-important brand.  No point in decrying that or getting all cynical about it - better to think of it as an opportunity for you to have a say.  Obviously it costs more money to make a more responsible product & in order to make a profit, that extra cost gets passed on to the consumer.  So in order to be a responsible consumer, you will have to fork out more cash.  But the good news is that the more people that choose to pay for products and services that more reflect their values, the more likely that the demand will be noted and rewarded with competition.  And hopefully as a consequence of that, the businesses themselves will have their production needs better met as there will be more of a demand.  Of course, there is always the issue of legitimacy and less than ethical businesses jumping on the bandwagon but those can be dealt with through the usual avenues that questionable business practices are investigated. If you are concerned, then do some research.

It's so much easier now to find free-range chicken, eggs, bacon and pork.  Easier to find environmentally-friendlier cleaning products.  Easier to find organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free foods.  (Ugh, just threw up in my mouth a little.)  Easier to find Fair Trade products.  (What's not easier to find are clothes made in NZ but I am working on that.)  But that didn't just happen because businesses decided to do the right thing, screw profit.  Not to say that their motives are all questionable; just that the market has to be there for it to be worth it, for them to succeed.  With big businesses, there has to be enough of a pay-off, kudos-wise.  It happened because consumers decided that some things were more important than getting bargain bin prices.  More important than living in the Now with easily disposable products and toxic by-products.  So decide what you think is more important and make yourselves "heard".  Put your money where your mouth is.    

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