I’m an old hippie who still believes that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. But here’s a book and a website that can help all of us be part of the solution.
From the Better World Shopper website:
“Globalization has brought wonderful products from around the world into our homes, but it has also allowed companies to exploit the resources, workers and us, their customers, to their benefit. One will spend less for such products and they will appear to be more convenient, but by acquiring such products these companies are also making us complicit in the devastation they bring to the environment and the additional suffering they cause to the animals and people used to make and sell their products. Would chocolate taste as sweet if you knew that the company that sold it employed children in sweatshop conditions and used unsustainable farming practices to produce it? The problem is that most consumers don’t know which companies do the right thing when it comes to environmental stewardship and other ethical practices and which ones just don’t care. If consumers had this type of information at their fingertips, most would forgo the small savings and modest conveniences and buy products that are better for the world and the beings that inhabit it….
Over seventy product types and the corporations that sell them are graded on human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice. For $10, this website sells a convenient pocket size book that makes it is easy to refer to as you shop ethically. An average American family spends $18,000 a year on goods and services. Make those dollars count by using them to teach corporations that being responsible to the world is being responsible to their bottom line….”
The website lists the 10 best and worst companies on the planet based on a comprehensive analysis of their overall records of social and environmental responsibility for the past 20 years:
TOM’S OF MAINE
BEN & JERRY’S
ALTRIA (PHILIP MORRIS)
ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND
If any of you have read my posts on the situation in Tibet (please read “News from Tibet” in the sidebar for the latest), you know that I try not to buy things that are made in China. That is very hard to do nowadays, but I’m wacky about reading the labels of everything I buy. Yoga peeps, look at the labels of your yoga clothes next time you reach for those funky yoga pants. Are they made utilizing child labor?
And let’s think about yoga mats: where are they made? As yogis, can we make better choices? Can we recycle those old mats that are made from non-biogradable materials or do we just throw them away to end up in a landfill somewhere, out of sight, out of mind? Yes, those eco-mats are more expensive, but in the long-run, which are a better choice? If my college students decide that yoga is not for them, I ask them to donate their mats and props to me for use at the domestic violence shelter where I teach. I tell them it is a better choice than the mats ending up in a landfill…or under their beds gathering dust!
I also refuse to support the Wal-Mart corporate culture. Some time ago I organized a citizens’ group to fight Wal-Mart to keep them from building next to a wetland/bird sanctuary, so I know first-hand how they play the game. They stop at nothing. We still got a Wal-Mart, but we “won” the fight: we saved 50% of the land, the developer moved the Wal-Mart across the road to “vacant” land (a farmer’s cornfield), and I worked with my town and the commercial developer to buffer the wetland from the strip mall that was eventually built through the use of native landscaping.
Don’t be part of the problem.
Be an educated consumer and shop mindfully (what a concept – mindful shopping!)
Engage in conscious choices.
Support your local farmer.
Think globally, act locally.
These are not cliches. Change begins with each one of us. Be the change. And if the yoga peeps who read this blog could post about this book…cool. Spread the word…and spread love.