I am homesteading again today, this means Jason is canning tomatoes and applesauce from our trees. It’s super-duper homesteady. And I am making gluten free/grain free/dairy free snacks for the week (I am praying they last till Monday). I am making a quick grocery list of things that I am out of, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, egg protein powder and chocolate chips. Somehow the chocolate chips slowed me down a bit. We are pretty limited on the chips we can use because of gluten and potential cross contamination, BUT I have found it a bit hard to find certified gluten free AND fair trade chocolate (if you know of any, let me know in the comments). So this got me thinking of my betterworldshopper.org experience.
I have been frequenting a “fair trade” store, Ethical Choices, that is locally owned, for about a year and I have gotten to know the owner. So when ‘back to school’ came around I asked him about where to get clothes, he directed me to betterworldshopper.org.
That’s when everything went down-hill.
It is a very user friendly site, among other tabs it has “the rankings” and “the top twenty” (along with the worst 20). You can see just about anything you would ever dream of purchasing ranked from A-F based on it’s social (does the company use things sourced from places who use child labor, slave labor or pay their employees an unlivable wage) and environmental responsibility. The companies are evaluated over a 20 year period and range from airlines, beer, banks, cereal, clothing, dairy, gas stations, office supplies, sea food, toilet paper, and water and EVERYTHING in between.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of shopping ethically, you’re not alone and if you haven’t checked out the rankings yet, your in for a LOT more of that feeling. I was very overwhelmed and went down the little path of “I can never avoid ALL of this, so I will just live my life”. Then I texted a few friends who can handle hysteria and are walking with me down this fair trade road and I felt a little better. Also, I am a “student” of Brene Brown and she teaches to lean into discomfort and vulnerability instead of shutting down, so hear I am leaning.
EVERY DOLLAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE
That is The Better World Shopper’s tag line. If that is true, then I can pick myself up off the floor of frustration and guilt and I can start with one dollar. Chocolate is a decent place to start. It has been said that chocolate is not a necessity, but who really believes that?? It is for me…yes, I am low in magnesium… so I need to look up the rankings of chocolate and have a few easily accessible brand names in my brain, so that I can get what I need when I need it. RIGHT?? Coffee is another easy one. There has been a lot of attention on fair trade coffee in the media, so some prolific establishments 😉 have worked to do fairly well.
The Top 20 list is my favorite because it gives us a positive way to turn, it validates what we have already been doing. We can be sure when we buy those brands that we are “purchasing in the direction of freedom”. The Worst 20 makes me feel the opposite, it is mostly composed of BIG corporations that touch many of our lives whether we like it or not…like one of the cars sitting in my driveway…shame. The worst 20 is scary and it’s very sad if you allow yourself to consider the planet we live on and the people who inhabit it.
But if every dollar counts then I can buy one chocolate bar over the other and chose one brand of organic yogurt over the other and pump gas from one station or the other and I have VOTED, I have made a difference. A small one to start, but when you know better, you do better (right, K?) Even if you are shopping in a most necessary and favorite store that ranks low, you can make choices within that store. Even if you are driving a car that is ranked very (very…very) poorly, I can fill it with gas from a company more responsible and maybe choose something better next time.
There is always a next time, there is always tomorrow, always another dollar to be spent. There is always a second chance. So if you are still reading, if I didn’t lose you at “I am homesteading again…” then check out betterworldshopper.org and pick one thing that you think you can avoid, or incorporate. Then pick another.