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How to Vote With Your Wallet

by Margaret on January 4, 2012

Local Blue Cheese


Last summer I interviewed an organic farmer who said: “Every time you step up to a cashier to pay for something, you place a vote for the product. Your purchase is your endorsement.”

We were talking about buying food and the choices we make when assembling the ingredients for our meals: Organic? Small, neighborhood market? Nearby farmstand?

Yet, when you think about it, the farmer’s comment applies to everything you purchase, not just what you pick up as you travel down the aisle of your local food store.

You can impart your views on policies, organizations and people that matter to you every time you pick up new stuff and cart it home. All of our acquisitions, no matter what size, are product endorsements.

On a daily basis you might make hard choices like:

Do I buy that teak bench? (Since two out of the three species of teak are endangered, the answer is probably no, unless you find a sustainable resource like those listed in the Forest Stewardship Council.)

Even minor decisions you make have a voice, like the return I recently made:

When I received my small messenger bag in the mail from a trusted brand I thought boasted quality and style, I was surprised to read the warning label accompanying my new buy:

This product has been sprayed with chemicals known to cause to cause cancer, and birth defects or other reproductive harm.


Well, the bag was cute, and I really wanted to keep it, but there was no way I was going to support the spraying of chemicals on my canvas sack that shouldn’t require any sort of special treatment just so I can love it.


Etsy's BAUHAUS BLOCK messenger bag


The bag went back without hesitation and I began searching for one about the same price to replace it. There are boatloads of handmade eco-bags on sites like Etsy, Earth Lover and Pristine Planet, and locally I have access to small shops selling one-of-a-kind messenger and tote bags.

After more research, though, I ended up choosing Patagonia’s Atom sling pack: Fashionable and well-made, the daypack comes with good looks, convenience and much more.

Patagonia’s well-known environmentalism includes giving 1% of every sale to a network of environmental organizations worldwide. And the company is more than Ambassadors of 1% For The Planet, they give back to the community and environment in a number of ways including using mindfully sourced materials.  I like that. And it makes me like my sling pack even better.

Many companies donate to a cause each time you buy their product (think TOMS, WARBY PARKER and CHOOZE). And there are organizations ensuring that both the components used in making their goods and the process utilized in creating them are earth-friendly and employee fair.

Where you spend your money is just about the biggest statement you can make, whether you are buying food, products or buying into ideas. In fact, it’s the easiest way to get heard. Plus, it’s empowering, and it feels good.

I like that too.


From → Dirt, life

  1. Lisa permalink

    I was reading an old post from last summer, and noticed you had “Wild Sweetie”. Did you find a US source for it? I’d love to know how to find it. (So far two years of searching with no luck.) And was it as great as it sounds?

  2. I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, details are on my blog. Love your posts!

    • Margaret permalink

      Hi Adele! Thanks so much for the mention! Love that Versatile Blogger Award!

  3. Hello, I want to say how lovely and interesting your blog is. I found it
    through the map on blotanical. I live and garden in Delaware. I am now
    planning to make mushroom/leek soup this weekend. Thanks

    • Margaret permalink

      Thanks Anne..I look forward to reading your blog too! I hope you like that soup recipe as much as I do.

  4. I so agree…you have to be a savvy consumer and make those informed purchases that go along with your principles…I never understand the need to spray a canvas bag…some good links too…thx

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