We’ve come to realize that the choices we make in relation to every day purchasing greatly affect the way the world works. Money determines how small businesses, corporations and even governments progress in terms of their commitment to the well being of its citizens and the world. There is no denying the power of money. The way we spend it helps shape our future.
In this post, we’ll briefly talk about the cycle of consumption and will share how we’ve tried to deal with this cycle by creating our own Purchasing Procedure.
The Cycle of Cheap Goods Relies on our Consumption Habits
Currently, our society perpetuates a cycle of cheap goods consumption. Corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising to convince us we need more and more and MORE of everything. Big box stores, in virtually every community, house millions of products in one place so that we can conveniently swing by to pick up the latest thing we’ve been convinced is essential. It takes us virtually no energy (or thought process) to fulfill our part in the cycle of consumption.
Lack of Accountability & Negative Effects
The problem with this cycle is that the cheap goods we continue to subsidize through our purchases are causing our local and global demise. The low price tag in no way reflects the true cost of the product – it doesn’t cover the cost of negative effects of the manufacturing process, unethical labor practices, or carbon footprint of shipping. It does, however, reflect the value we put on human decency and stewardship of the earth. We show again and again that we’re willing to pay the bottom-of-the-barrel price for convenience, regardless of how egregiously it violates human rights or negatively impacts our environment.
Personal Choice & Action = Change
This led us to ask ourselves, “Are people really ok with the fact that they are supporting and subsidizing such horrible actions and conditions?”. We think that if people were aware of the truth, most would stop or minimize their participation in the process. Watch “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard to understand how our production and consumption habits affect us and our world:
Rejecting Cheap & Easy May Seem Difficult (But it’s not!)
We’re the first to acknowledge it is hard to turn away from the cycle of cheap goods consumption. We still struggle against the tide and we often battle with an irrational and intense desire to buy things we don’t need. But, there are healthier and more ethical ways of consuming and they are made more accessible to us every day. And, the delusion that we need cheap products becomes easier to reject if you understand the true cost of consuming. Once revealed, it’s hard to turn away from that knowledge.
Changing the Tide: Be A Part of the Movement
The truth is that, if used wisely, your money will go further and will more positively affect the well being of your local or global community. If, one by one, we start purchasing products differently, it will affect the social aspect of the cycle as well. People will start to talk about and value educated and ethical purchasing. It will become the norm. Companies will have to change the way they do business in order to remain profitable. It is possible to change the tide.
Our Purchasing Procedure: Keeping us Honest
We developed a Purchasing Procedure (below & on Scribd) to be used with our Final Cost Equation Spreadsheet (below) which helps us make decisions about purchasing in relation to our needs and values.
Green boxes in the formula represent the best possible scenario in purchasing. Yellow boxes represent a time to pause and reflect on the purchase before continuing onward. If we choose to purchase a product despite the fact that it doesn’t meet the standards we set for what we consider ethical purchasing (which rarely happens), additional cost is added to the final cost of the product and we must donate that amount to appropriate charitable organizations to help offset any damaging consequences (we realize this is a “get out of jail free” card but sometimes we really can’t find alternatives). Although we don’t always follow the procedure religiously, just the act of creating it has prompted us to stop and think about the consequences of our purchase before we hand over our hard earned money.
Our Final Cost Equation Spreadsheet (an excel doc, shown below and downloadable here):