Conscious Consumer Workshop
Overview: If you missed our earlier posts related to Conscious Consumerism, you may visit them from here.
- Monday:What Color do you Feel Today? - Tracing the ‘color-wave’ of causes, and a call to action: Be Critical.
- Tuesday: Just Think- A critical discussion of cause marketing
- Wednesday: Rinsing the Greenwash Effect- Wordless Wednesday presentation of what ‘green’ really looks like
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The best way I have found to align my monetary contributions with causes I feel inspired by or deeply connected to is by making a direct donation. Rather than allowing myself to be lured in to the contribution via packaging displays of marketing messages, I try to keep church and state separated here. When at the grocery store, I keep focused on remaining along the perimeter of the store, where labels are few and far between; while venturing into the center, I keep focused on product ingredient lists and remind myself to remain critical of claims made on the front of packages.
At times, I have found it most helpful to pre-research the products I intend on purchasing before ever entering into the store. I know it may seem on the surface of things like such research can prove overly energy-consuming and take, perhaps, more time than simple store shopping. However, I have found that when I research products for purchase ahead of time, I am able to stay focused on the task at hand rather than be distracted by cause marketing messages that are, let’s be honest, very effective.
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Produce Shopping: When it comes to purchasing produce, there is no real need to guard yourself against marketing messages, as the majority of those claims occur on packaging, and, the produce you want to challenge yourself to purchase won’t have a package to print on. If you do, however, find that your local grocer doesn’t offer the quality or variety of produce you are looking for, try checking out this link to see if you live in an area where you might be able to to sign up for a CSA box. (CSA boxes are also really great options for elderly, new moms, and super busy folk in general).
Necessity Shopping: I used to spend so much time in the deodorant isles. I know it sounds silly, but I really have so many claims in my head regarding calls to action: avoid aluminum (though I am not sure of the validity of this claim relating to cancer- if you do, please share), quality, and then, there is that little pink ribbon all over the place. In order to streamline the deodorant and other personal necessity shopping, I have found it most helpful to check out the Environmental Working Group’s site. It does an incredible job at providing a one-stop-look-up for all your typically found bathroom items, from toothpaste to cosmetics, and allows you to compare the known-to-be-harmful chemicals present in each.
So, rather than entering the store and allowing myself to become altogether bewildered when confronted with the endless slew of packaging claims and cause marketing messages, I arrive prepared. My grocery list not only includes the item needed, say, well, deodorant, but the brand as well.
Contribute Directly to Cause
While keeping my church and state separate (i.e. my product shopping and my cause related donations), I typically avoid products with claims sounding anything like, “A portion of the proceeds obtained from the sale of this product will go to such-and-such cause.” Instead, I allow myself to connect to the cause and be moved by my own desire to act generously. If I notice that I am suddenly feeling a call towards a particular cause, Haiti or Japan, for instance, then I take a mental note down and remind myself to research reputable organizations with whom I might donate through later. When I get home and have some time carved out for real research, it is at that time that I look-up a reputable news source, such as the New York Times, to learn if it has ran a recent article relating to recommended organizations. A great source recommended by a fellow NY Times blog reader suggests checking out Charity Navigator- a legitimate and trusted source of information relating to regional, national, and international charities.