As consumers, we are often used to disempowering ourselves. We know that the prices of the food in the supermarket are often dictated by the economics of the time. For example, Brexit in the United Kingdom is threatening to raise grocery prices for a time after the European exit takes place. For that reason and many more like it, we all know that to some extent, our purchasing power is at the mercy of many different things. We are also used to being price gouged. For example, if you head into smartphone store, you’re not only going to purchase the handset but become encouraged to purchase ten other additional services alongside it (or at least that’s how it feels).
With all this, we might feel disempowered. But actually, despite that feeling, our purchasing power can have a tremendous impact on industry trends. Not only this, but it can also start to set the norms provided you are vocal about it. On top of this, as a family simply trying to make the best of whatever situation you are lucky to have, it’s not as if you have millions of dollars to throw around. That is unless you are really lucky. This means that every purchase you make does matter, it has weight, and responds to a healthier decision making process.
Let us consider what that process is, and potentially guide you towards some healthier spending behaviors when it comes to who and what you may like to support:
Focus On Businesses That Care About Their Impact
Some industries unfortunately do have some impact on the environment, perhaps more than others. For example, auto manufacturing firms are often known for their high degree of factory activity, potentially wasted materials and emissions caused through vehicular testing. A firm that doesn’t hide behind their PR to cover their tracks can often be a fantastic thing to praise, and something to try and support.
It could also be that despite having little to do with a certain societal problem, a firm still provides a donation or regular contribution to something they believe in and wish to see fixed. For example, AssuranceAmerica, a prestigious insurance company, have taken steps to donate some of their pre-tax profits to organizations that manage homelessness and addiction. Often, stated messages like this allow for the business purpose to remain true, and in a manner that seems much less profit-seeking than we can cynically consider a business to be in its entirety. For example, while insurances profit from the ‘what if’ scenario that everyone considers, by their definition the moral goal of an insurance company should be to wish for these problems to slowly fade or improve over time, even though that is not their actionable purpose.
With steps such as these, we can see what a corporations ‘heart’ might be. It’s those businesses that you want to support, because they set a worthwhile precedent worth keeping and promoting as much as possible.
Humble BusinessesWhat sort of businesses do you gravitate to when conducting your weekly sustainable shopping efforts? Do you usually gravitate to the supermarket because it’s simply and everything is located in one area? Do you head to the market to try and find the best deals or even negotiate? Do you find yourself heading into chain cafes for lunch? It could be that while you are of course contributing to the economy in this way, you could have a great deal of long-term impact should you refine your choices just a little more.
For example, it might be that you decide to use the grocer and butcher more in your local area. Not only can you build more of a long-term relationship with said owners, but both will usually have better products that are less ‘supermarket uniform’ and are instead in-season, customized for that day, or completely fresh. For example, a butcher might be able to take requests for an upcoming party, or can advise you on what cut would be best when chasing the perfect steak experience. On top of that, you are quite literally supporting businesses that are keeping a certain family afloat, as they depend on your business upkeep. Instead of heading into that chain retailer for a lunch you are completely familiar with right now, why not head to that local Mom&Pop bakery down the road?
Something happens when you support local business - you feel a little happier in your day out shopping. It’s a strange phenomenon. On top of that, it could also be that reducing your reliance on services like Amazon can be helpful, as they repeatedly fail to pay taxes on their corporate profits through a heavy series of legal loopholes they exploit each year. Of course, your convenience is often what makes your decision, but sometimes, keeping this in mind can have a big difference, even if only applied now and then.
Don’t Be Afraid To Boycott
We all know that social media and certain groups interested in recreational outrage are great at finding reasons as to why you shouldn’t support X or should ‘cancel’ Y, but unfortunately this has dissuaded most people from the right to exercise their purchasing power for moral or ethical reasons.
If you only support businesses that conform to your individual politics completely, you’ll likely never spend another penny again, nor survive long for that matter. But it can be that sometimes, your purchasing power can be directed in places that are purposeful. For example, Gillette’s controversial advertisement that compounded on the apparent effects of toxic masculinity was immediately met with a stock price drop, culminating from their target audience.
On top of that, Churches Chicken is known to be run by those who are not accepting of gay rights, or have strong opinions on the matter, and so for some eating there would be tantamount to accepting these beliefs. You might find yourself fully into these topics and boycotts, or you might let them pass you by, only letting a good product define your purchasing power. But do not let those who overreact to issues dissuade you from thinking this is a bad choice to make, or not effective in the long term. There’s a reason businesses spend millions to gain your purchasing loyalty, and so rescinding it can be a big issue indeed.
With this advice, we hope you can choose to support the businesses you might appreciate, even if that differs from the next person along.