Whether we are shopping for food, clothes, gifts, home decor or toys, anytime we part with our money, we are making a vote. As a consumer, we have the power to vote in line with our values, and according to what is important to our family.
To vote in a way that aligns with nature.
Let’s get to work!
Balancing our finances
This journey we are on is intended to bring us into balance. Balance within ourselves, balance in our families and balance for the Earth.
It is therefor worthwhile for you to take the time to look at your finances to make sure that any money you spend, aligns with your needs, values and desires.
You can do this by tracking the money in, the money out, and making more conscious choices.
I personally love YNAB - You Need A Budget (<-- This link gives you one month's trial for free) to get clear on what I want my money to do for me and my family, but there are many options for creating a budget, choose the one that makes the most sense to you.
How do I make a difference?
Once you feel that your budget is aligned with your values, we can look at how we can make a difference, just by making conscious choices on how and where we shop. Here are some ways your shopping choices make an environmental impact on your community and the world:
Choose used, when possible
By buying items that have already been produced, you are reducing the demand for new production (and fast fashion like we mentioned in our Closet challenge). You are also supporting other families who rely on sales of their items for extra income.
When I say shop local, I don’t simply mean buy in-store, in your town or city. In order to truly make a difference, use your dollars to shop with small, locally owned businesses whenever possible. They will often sell more locally produced merchandise (supporting local makers, artists and entrepreneurs), as well as serving smaller neighbourhoods where you won’t need to travel far to shop. They also often share your own family values, and contribute in many ways to the community they serve.
Big box stores on the other hand, take up a lot of land to allow for large buildings and big parking lots which means they go outside city centers and neighbourhoods. The infrastructure needed to facilitate this, increase pollution and taxes. They will also often sell cost saving, mass produced items with shorter life spans, which are not always manufactured in an environmentally conscious manner. Whereas small businesses tend to choose higher quality items which they are knowledgeable about, and sometimes can offer servicing on.
Be a smarter online shopper
When you do choose to shop online, try to keep it to items that have a low risk of return. Returns from online purchases greatly outnumber returns to in-store purchases. This results in increased transportation (pollution) as well as waste (much of returned items are destroyed rather than re-stocked). I also encourage you to wait until you can group several items together, so that you are not unnecessarily creating more pollution by creating several packages, shipped separately.
Buy at Farmers Markets, and in bulk
When shopping for food, buying in bulk greatly reduces excess packaging, and when you buy your food from local producers, and/or at the farmer’s markets your food will be fresher with a much smaller carbon footprint.
Nature Aligned Shopping Action Steps
This 12-month journey is all about small steps, and incremental changes. This month, use these action steps to slowly start changing your choices and shopping habits. Even just being aware and observing your current habits, is a great start.
1. Create a balanced budget for your family, where you clarify where you would like your hard earned money to go, to align with you and your family’s values. Remember that every time you spend, you place a vote.
2. When possible, choose used.
3. Shop local and small
4. When shopping online, try to stick to items that you are sure won’t need to be returned. Group items so that you are limiting the amount of packaging and transportation needed.
5. Shop locally grown, made, cooked and baked. And buy in bulk whenever possible, to reduce excess packaging.
6. And last but not least... Bring your own bags (shopping and produce)!