View Mobile Site
 
Posted: December 17, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Be responsible when shopping

It was just a pack of three dishcloths, a small and simple purchase. At home, I tore off the label holding them together and learned that my miniscule purchase would help support the Giving World Foundation. I Googled the name and found the website for Giving World, of Williston, Vt. Its motto is "Helping People to Help Themselves," further explained as helping the disadvantaged become self-reliant with an emphasis on programs to aid women and children in India. Foundation dollars go to schools, abandoned children, the children of prisoners, crime prevention and rehabilitation of criminals, even teaching people behind bars to weave so that there will be employment when released.

Suddenly I felt very good about the prospect of washing dishes and proud of even a small contribution to this foundation. That got me thinking about all the ways we make statements about ourselves and the world by the way we spend money.

Tom’s Shoes came to mind. (They can be found online or in places as diverse as Whole Foods and major department stores.) The company was founded after American Blake Mycoskie, traveling in Argentina in 2006, saw firsthand how many poverty-stricken children there did not have shoes. Without shoes, the children are subject to soil-borne disease and cuts and sores leading to infection. He vowed to change things and created a company that produces simple canvas shoes, pledging to give one pair of shoes to a child in a developing country for every pair of shoes sold. Later in 2006, he returned to Argentina to distribute 10,000 pairs of shoes, and it was just the beginning of one man’s quest to change the world. Anyone want to go shoe shopping?

Are you familiar with Seventh Generation detergents, paper goods and cleaning products, all available locally? The paper goods are recycled, and the soaps and cleaning products are formulated to have a minimal impact on the environment. The brand name comes from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy that says: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." (Someone please get that word to Congress.) If you’re fond of reading labels, you’ll see on the side of the liquid laundry soap this statement: "If every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 100 oz. 2x ultra petroleum-based liquid laundry detergent with our 100 oz. 2x ultra plant-derived product, we could save 466,000 barrels of oil, enough to heat and cool 26,800 U.S. homes for a year." Yes, the laundry detergent is somewhat more expensive than major brand names, but when one considers the impact on our oil use and the environment, the price is cheap.

Fair Indigo markets clothing, accessories and decorative items produced in manufacturing environments where the workers are paid fair wages, which is the primary concern of the founders of this brand. There’s coffee from companies that buy directly from individual growers, cutting out the middleman to ensure that the farmers get all that’s due them. There’s coffee that promises to have been grown in the shade, thereby protecting the forest habitat of songbirds. Chocoholics can buy chocolate from a company that donates a portion of its proceeds to the protection and preservation of various endangered animals.

Purchase Paul Newman’s products and you’ll be contributing to the kids’ camps for cancer victims that he founded. When you buy Silk Soy Milk products, you’re endorsing that company’s founding commitment "to make the world a healthier place in a responsible way." They’ve partnered with a group called Conservation International to champion the planet’s natural resources and use "only soybeans produced in a sustainable, socially responsible and ethical manner," including those that have not been genetically modified.

There’s plenty of locally-made art, jewelry and decorative accessories to be found in Covington, and buying it promotes and sustains a colony of creative individuals who enhance our community and lives with their skills, imagination and talents. Oh, for the eyes to see as an artist sees! Buying locally and regionally grown produce, including Christmas trees, helps to strengthen and expand our bedrock agricultural industry. (Newton County-grown vegetables are stocking markets and the newest and finest restaurants to be found in Atlanta, no small claim to fame, might I say.)

We also make statements by what we choose not to buy. One of my favorite things not to buy is any food product grown or made in China, but this takes some very studious shopping. China has become notorious in recent years for heinous violations of food safety protections, starting with the pet food scare that killed many dogs in the U.S. I just don’t trust their commitment to health or environmental standards.

There is now federal law requiring country-of-origin signage for a variety of food products but not all, so pay attention. I’ve got a sister-in-law who reads every label word-for-word, and if she can’t determine whether the product is not made in China, she drops it like a hot potato. "Distributed by" is a giveaway that the contents could come from somewhere questionable. What we should be — whether buying or not buying — is conscious shoppers.

 

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.

Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...