In a capitalistic society, upgrading to the latest gadget or buying a tool simply for convenience is easy to justify. Many times, we don't look into where the product is being made, how it is made, what type of company produces, or if there are better alternatives. Only lately, have consumers spent more time looking into these questions and even China is looking into ways to reduce their carbon-footprint (finally! have you seen their air?!).
When it comes to convenience, we're still taking the path to least resistance - and it is this very idea that is going to have to change if we want society to progress, learn, and to better support our environment.
Our climate is effected, drastically, by our consumer habits. If one doesn't believe this, please read the latest Journals of Science on climate change and consumer behavior. It is fascinating and scary that we, humans, choose the path of least resistance (when given an option), which in turn sacrifices either quality, our environment, values, or something else (and all the above). Though society advances are driven by technology, connection through social media, and the most superior search engines of mankind, it's become more complicated than ever to know if what we're buying is hurting someone or something along the supply chain. Consumer behavior is bad, but I don't believe this is all our faults.
Marketing and online engines are designed, just like most other things in a capital marketplace, to bring articles to the top of Google or Bing when traffic is high and there is money to be made. Paid social media marketing has all but monetized the information we receive (not just the news anymore!) - and if there is one thing I’ve learned from Gonzaga University, it is that monetized forms of information or research are bias and don't give us a clear snapshot of what's really going on.
Back to college 101 we go - we must become informed consumers and the researchers of our own lives and consumer decisions.
Ways To Take Back Your Power
The first question to ask is: What values do I hold highest? These could be trust, transparency, respect, diversity, loyalty, sustainability, charity, community, and so on. It's always good to start with 5-10 values and go from there. Next, we can ask, in relation to the marketplace, does this product/service/organization uphold similar values to my own? Does their company culture and branding support these values? How?
If we can answer these questions confidently, the next question would be, is this product/service harming anyone/anything/the environment along the supply chain? If so, where and how? This is the most important question that gets overlooked. We can breakdown a company’s supply chain from manufacturer to packaging, all the way down to how a product/service gets to the consumer. Then, we can ask, are there better, safer, cleaner alternatives that are similar in pricing? And, why? That's important, too. This may seem time consuming, but the trade-off is HUGE for you, your health, our society, wallet, quality of product, and environment - so worth it!
If pricing becomes the main concern to us for our products/services - we are driven by the price in the market, not quality. Therefore, businesses will inedibly focus on creating products solely driven by the price index, not our values (and quality).
Does this product/service bring me true joy? Why? Joy is different than happiness. Being happy is a moment, something that comes and goes - while joy is a state, something that lasts and even in dark times you can come back to feeling deep joy (and gratitude). If something brings us joy, it would have had to align with our values, not harm a person/place/or thing, and there would not be any better, safer, or cleaner alternatives.
Another question I ask myself before purchasing an item/service is, "What does this allow me to do?" For example, if I am deciding to buy a new book or not, I usually ask myself what I will have the opportunity to gain from the new knowledge and what could I do with that new knowledge? Both important questions to keep in mind when thinking about our purchases as investments.
Not only is the physical effect of what we purchase important - our dollar is our vote. Our vote sends things into action - what do we want to be remembered for contributing to? What type of company are we giving our hard-earned money to? Do their values align with with our values? Are they acting these values out in the products they make and the services they sell us? How does their culture effect their employees and in term effect our community and society? Are they encompassing values that we want in our community? Really, really important questions, friends.
The Future Researcher is You - Change Your World, Change The World
Choosing ethical businesses that align with our values will usually point us to businesses closer to our homes. Local companies have a smaller carbon footprint, inherently, and are usually very involved in their local community - giving back and supporting local values.
There are few resources online to help us find the most ethical and trustworthy organizations, which is why we can't listen to marketing (remember, they are bias!) and we need to do some of our own research before we make our next purchase. We're at a time in our culture where climate change is a daily news topic, not something of the past. This should be important to each of us - of course, unless we're living in the most narcissistic society known to mankind (please, no!). So, asking how what we're buying is being made and who and what it is effecting along the supply chain is very important if we want to see real change, not only in the marketplace as prices skyrocket, but as the environment breaks down.
I hope this gave you some food for thought. As we've been saving for house projects, future cars, furnishing our first home, and other 'delights of life', these questions have rang loud and clear in our ears with each purchase. It's something we care deeply about in our home and these values are reflected in everything we do at Pantry Fuel.
Thank you for reading and contributing, we love the opportunity to serve you through our healthy, convenient meals or through our thought-provoking blog.
If you loved this, share this or comment - What questions do you ask yourself before purchasing? We'd love to hear from you!