Earth Day Series 1) 8 Things You Can do to Shop More Kindly!

We’ve all been shopping online during COVID. This has been extremely convenient—and necessary. But as we come out from under the restrictions, it’s a great time to reconsider our priorities and how we want our world to be.

For many of us, we see that our local towns or neighbourhoods have been decimated. Many small businesses will not be opening again. And if we keep supporting the giant corporations like Amazon and Walmart many more smaller businesses will join them.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

Many large companies treat the planet and/or their staff poorly. There are countless stories of environmental damage, heartless treatment of employees as ever increasing production targets reduce people to numbers in a system designed only to maximise profit… Try watching the movie Dark Waters about horrendous pollution by DuPont.

But we can shop more kindly—reducing the negative impacts on our environment and fellow human beings…

One particular example, Amazon, has grown hugely during COVID and has been (extremely) convenient for us as consumers. But Amazon treats its staff terribly. The pay is minimal, and Amazon has stressed out and dehumanised their workplace with challenging and punitive work targets. The stories about people peeing into bottles because they don’t have time to go to the toilet or being fired when they’re off sick with work-related injuries? All true—and more.

Amazon employs many, many people but does not offer job security, a living wage or decent benefits. This is how they keep their costs down and get the lowest prices to us! But there is a cost—and Amazon’s employees are paying it. The money that we—and Amazon—save could instead go towards treating our fellow humans better…

Here is an article with real tweets from people who worked at Amazon and their experiences. Other articles from a search include this one on The Guardian, this one from the New York Times, this one at Forbes, this one from The Washington Post and many, many more.

Many big companies also avoid paying tax

Not only do we have unkind treatment of people and our planet to consider, but many (most?) big corporations avoid paying valuable taxes that could go back into our economies and governments. This of course also has an impact on the taxes we need to pay as individuals… For just one example, here’s an article from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, with a list of 55 super profitable US Companies that paid zero corporate taxes in 2021. Or the easier read from The New York Times.

You have more power than you think…

We may think we don’t have much power to change the world. But one way we can easily make a difference is thinking about what we spend our money on. And more importantly, who we give our money to…

I know not everyone has this luxury. When you live in poverty, buying the cheapest possible item makes sense because it’s about survival.

But once we’re no longer in survival mode, we have a choice.

What do you value?Gloria Steinem Quote about Values & Check book

Would you rather your money went to a small business, possibly someone you know—or to Jeff Bezos, so he can continue mistreating his workers, spend that money launching himself and his friends into space and not pay taxes?

It helps to consider our values—what we consider most important in life:

  • Which do you value more: kindness or thrift?
  • Would you rather boost your local community/economy or the shareholder value of big corporations (and ultimately line the pockets of the already super-rich)?

We can tell our values by looking at our check book stubs. Gloria Steinem

Here are 5 Things to Shop More Kindly and Support Smaller, More Ethical Companies

1) Use Amazon as your Wishlist (and for research)

But then buy from smaller and/or more local or ethical companies.

2) Avoid Walmart and shop elsewhere

Yes, Walmart is cheap and has lots of products we want and need.

However its working practices demeans workers, they pay low wages and then encourage staff to get supplemental benefits from the government (which come out of our taxes!). They have also built stores and negotiated tax breaks with local government, only to close those stores when the incentives end. Watch this documentary on YouTube here (for more info go to IMDb).

3) Switch banking to a local Credit Union

Do some (or all) of your banking with a local credit union. And if you have investments, ask your financial advisor about “greening” some of your investments.

4) Boycott and/or call out companies with poor business practices

Whether the poor business practices are behaving badly towards the natural environment, their staff or customers, we almost always have a choice to shop somewhere else. Plus we can write letters, post on social media, start a petition, warn our friends—and more.

5) Buy direct from the Farmer!

If you’re lucky enough to have farms or a farmer’s market near you, buy direct. If you have children, this is a great thing for them to experience rather than the sterile supermarket chain.

And remember there is also an environmental cost to shipping…

And here are 3 things you can do to reduce the environmental cost of shipping

1) Buy locally manufactured or grown goods

Beyond shopping locally, one of the best things to do is buy locally manufactured or grown goods. The easiest things here are often food, gifts and whatever your local area is known for… If it’s manufactured locally then shipping distances are minimal!

2) Stop selecting super fast shipping!

When you can, stop choosing super fast shipping. Do you really need that thing in two days, or can you wait?

3) Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season in your region!

Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season in your region/locally. And don’t buy stuff that has been unnecessarily shipped across country or around the world!

Here’s an example: I was making a fish pie and there was this AMAZING deal on frozen fish. But it was fished in China, processed on the east coast of America, and then shipped to the west coast of Canada where I live. All for $4.95. How is this even possible? Part of me wanted to grab this super deal with both hands! But I am not hard up any more, and I made something else for dinner…

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

It’s time to browse again in our local stores, relax, hangout with friends, maybe bump into people you know, enjoy a coffee and have an experience.

Of course, with the environment being continuously degraded by humans in our ever increasing drive for more, perhaps the answer isn’t to buy smaller and local (although this helps both the environment and our local community). Instead, consider simply buying less.

Ask yourself is this purchase a need or a want? Could I (and the planet) be better served if I thrillingly did NOT buy this thing?

After all, the easiest thing to do to be kind to ourselves, our planet and our pocketbook may be to:

Buy less stuff. Period.

If you liked this article, you may also like:

Or these Beautiful Graphics to Share for our Planet Earth (created for Earth Day but can be shared any time)

Image of Woman pondering by krakenimages via Kraken Images

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