The Project:

2013: Personal Divestment

The Goal: to learn about where my money goes and actively disinvest it from corporations and businesses that harm people and the planet. Instead, choosing to support businesses whose practices and products support building a more just and sustainable world.

Examining my spending: I will be looking at every aspect of my relationship to money and how the choices I make effect the world. Hoping both to cut down on my own consumption and to re-shape my own habits so that I no longer shop frequently at big chain stores and buy products produced by large corporations, instead I hope to educate myself to choose fair and just products from local / independent or socially responsible stores.

Values: Justice & Sustainability

The Better World Shopper grades companies based on the following criterion: Human Rights, The Environment, Animal Protection, Community Involvement and Social Justice.

I am going to further clarify this list by saying that I will try to support: fair labor (ethical production, cooperatives, fair trade, etc.), local & handmade products and stores, and products and services that are made with sustainability and ecofriendlieness in mind at every level.

Two key aspects: Where & What

What – what is the product or service I am buying? Whether it’s a plane ticket, a t-shirt, credit card or cup of coffee I want to know who makes it. Many small companies that seem eco friendly and socially progressive are actually owned by large corporations, most of what we buy boils down to 6 or 8 mega companies like Proctor and Gamble and Kellog and Coca-Cola. (Did you know that Perrier, San Pellegrino and Poland Springs mineral water are all owned by Nestle?)

Where – I also want to look at where I buy things, focusing on shifting my spending over to cooperatives, local small businesses and online hosted businesses that are independent and ethical. Ideally I will be buying ethically produced things and services from local small businesses and ethically minded stores. In the case that I am unable to find a product I use / need that is made by an ethical company I can still make the choice to buy at a local store rather than that at a big box store.

I hope to shop as much as possible at small businesses, creating a kind of ‘main street’ for myself in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, re-programing myself to ignore all those signs for mega chains and hunting out the awesome little mom and pop stores, as well as ethical online businesses that sell products I can’t get locally.
Example – one of my favorite stores is Sustainable NYC – in Alphabet City in Manhattan, the shop carries a wide array of practical house and gift items that are local, organic, fair trade & recycled – a small local business that sells ethically products – amazing!

Questions to ask myself:
- Can I do without this product or service?
- Can I make or do this myself?
- Can I buy this locally from someone else who has made it or done it?
- Can I buy an ethical version of this at an ethical store?
- Can I buy it used?
- Can I buy this on ETSY or from another small business online?
- If it’s a product or service from a large company – can I at least buy it locally / at an independent store?

The reason that unethical companies are so powerful is that we buy their products and services, without consumers Walmart would not exist (neither would its slave labor, environmental degradation or union busting), and without proper consumer support ethical businesses cannot flourish, each of us on our own is only a drop in the pond, but together we are capable of re-defining the economy! Join me in the Movement for a New Economy!