Sorry to all of you who clicked this link because you thought it was a satire, or a humorous send-up of those of us who love to shop. It’s not. I’m serious. About shopping. And about life. And about how my everyday choices impact the world.
So sit closer as we are reminded….
1. Buy local. Buying local is a preference to buy locally produced goods and services rather than those produced by corporatised institutions (ie the big guys). Buying local doesn’t mean racing down to your local 711 for bread and milk, but is related to the distance between food producers and consumers. Meaning your food has travelled as little as possible to get to you.
The best way to do this is to grow it yourself, buy from local farmers or farmers ,markets or at least buy from small suppliers who focus on buying this way. You’ll be supporting your local economy as well as saving on fuel emissions from those who carry the food.
2. Buy Organic. Mots of use try to buy organic where we can, which is evidenced by the fact that the organic food industry is growing at around 30% per annum. Did you know that conventional food contain on average half the nutritional benefits of their organic counterparts? The average conventional fruit is exposed to at least 20 pesticides, so not only are you benefiting your body, but you are also saving the environment from tonnes of unnecessary pollutants.
3. Buy fairtrade. Fairtrade is a trading partnership that focuses on sustainable development for poorer producers by providing better trading conditions, raising awareness of their situation, and campaigning [www.stokefairtrade.org.uk]. Currently commodities being fairly traded include coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, bananas, mangoes, orange juice and sugar. Look for products with an official Fairtrade logo, which verifies their compliance with the international standards. If you start with coffee and chocolate, you’ll be making a big impact already. (For more info, visit http://www.fta.org.au/ )
4. Buy direct from the artisan. There are so many beautiful products being created by local artisans these days, from cakes and jams, to clothing, jewellery and perfume (giving myself an obvious plug here). Do you really need to buy them from a department store? You can find these artisans and their wares at markets, pop-up shops, online stores, and even from the latest wave of retailers that showcase artisans. The best ones we’ve found are Etsy, Labels to Love, Blue Caravan and Made It. When you make a purchase from these sites, you deal directly with the creator, and they receive at least 80% of the purchase price. Avoid “the big guys” that markup by 100-1000 percent!
5. Don’t buy from “the big guys”. Unless absolutely necessary. Of course, you can’t avoid them entirely, but, where possible, buy from small independent stores, markets, artisans directly, or those who support the “little guys”. Why avoid the big guys? Because they have their hands in too many pies, because they control too much of our economy, because their mark-ups are often humongous, because they screw down the little guys, because they don’t focus on the things that really matter.
6. Support small independent businesses. They are usually focused on the things that really matter. See all of the above points.
7. Make it Yourself. I’m not kidding. Trust me, your mum wasn’t just being nice when she told you she loved your handmade gifts the best. Everyone with a heart appreciates the time and effort that goes into your homemade biscuits, or jam, fruit basket, or voucher for a back rub.
8. Buy from op-shops, eBay (used) or auction. Some of the most beautiful and best quality items are those produced years ago. So scour your local second-hand stores, auction houses or even eBay for something unique and beautiful.
9. Don’t buy it unless its needed or wanted. Let’s face it, does uncle Bob really need a huge box of chocolates? I’m not suggesting you stick with socks and jocks, but put some thought into your gift-giving, and don’t just buy because you have to buy something. Think outside the square. Maybe Uncle Bob actually needs his lawns mowed. He’ll appreciate your thought and you’ll feel good about it (and you’ll save some money!).
10. Make a donation. Not everyone will love the idea, but for those who will, instead of buying a gift they many not want or need, make a donation to a cause you know they support. One Seed supports Australia Hope International who have gift cards for purchase on their website. You can buy everything from a toothbrush & soap ($5) to a 2-roomed house ($5000) for those affected by AIDS, war or poverty in Uganda or Congo.
How do you plan to make a difference to your world when you shop next time? I’d love to hear about it…