Spending with Purpose: 5 Easy Ways to Create an Impact with your Money
This week's article reminds me of a bit from The Office where Oscar dresses up as “the rational consumer.” Any other Office fans out there? In today's world, more than ever, being a conscious consumer is so important. I remember my grandfather saying to me “the biggest mistake they ever made was allowing free trade and outsourcing work to developing and underdeveloped countries.” At the time I don’t think I fully understood what he meant but now I get it. He was raised during a time where buying local was the only option, not just the trendy thing to do. Where my generation has grown up in a free-market world, it is normal for labels to read made in China, Taiwan, Indonesia or Bangladesh. But what is the cost to all of us and the environment for these economical products?
For those of you who don’t know us, a year and a half ago Chad, River and I, did a big international move and spent some time travelling before “settling” in British Columbia. I use the term settling loosely as we prepare this week for another local move. However, this time there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are looking forward to being rooted. This nomadic lifestyle has forced us to become very minimalistic, which has been liberating. It causes us to be conscious of our purchases and only keep the things we truly value.
Now before I buy something I ask myself “Does this align with my values, is it going to enhance my life or benefit my family?” If the answer is yes I buy it. I used to shop for sport or try to find fulfillment from material possessions, but once I understood what I truly value and how my purchases have power, it caused a shift in perspective.
Here are 5 easy ways to create an impact with your money:
Buy less and high quality
You know how they say less is more, this is my motto when it comes to clothing.
Instead of buying 10 cheaply made shirts, dresses or pants, I find ethical companies and invest in higher quality pieces. When you invest in higher quality products they are going to last longer, which is better for the environment for a couple of reasons; one, most products are made in developed countries that have stricter environmental regulations. Two, items tend to be more durable and won’t end up in landfills and as a bonus when you are done with an item it can be sold or upcycled.
When it comes to clothing look for classic items that won't go out of style and can be staples in your wardrobe for years to come. Buying versatile pieces will allow you to easily create new looks so you don’t feel like you are wearing the same thing all the time. You can apply the same principles to furniture and kid's toys.
Here are some of my favourite Canadian ethical clothing companies:
Buy Second-Hand or Upcycle
One man’s junk is another man's treasure. That was the case in our home growing up.
My mom was the queen of upcycling and thrift store shopping well before it was the cool thing to do. I inherited her love for vintage and shabby chic. Second-hand shopping and upcycling are probably more accessible than they have ever been. You still have your traditional stores and garage sales as a way to find hidden gems, but like most things, the internet has made second-hand shopping more convenient. Many community Facebook groups are dedicated to allowing people to sell unwanted items and many people have created online businesses selling upcycled and vintage items.
Here are some cool ones to check out:
Buggy's Custom Vintage Instagram @buggyscustomvintage Clothing
Greenbean Reloved Clothing
Create Experiences as Gifts
This can be achieved without spending a lot of money. It’s a tradition that we started in our house on special occasions, birthdays and Christmas instead of buying gifts we do something together as a family. It can be as simple as packing a picnic to take to the beach or on a hike, or going on a trip, having a spa day or seeing a concert or play.
High Vibing Wellness Mobile Spa In home luxury body treatements and massages
When you support a local business you are supporting local families and the community. Entrepreneurs tend to turn their passion into a career and usually are influencing change on a larger scale. Most local businesses heavily give back to their community and support social and community organizations. It’s a great way to reduce your role in the exploitation of others and build relationships within your community.
Some of my Okanagan Favs:
Your local farmers
Wild Coven Natural gemstone jewelry
Leanne Spanza's Art Bold colours. Simple lines. Happy art.
BARE Nature Products All natural organic skin and body care
BNA Brewing Co. Brewery & Eatery
Skinny Duke’s Glorious Emporium Restaurant
Arrowleaf Cellars Winery
Upside Cider & Farm Market Organic cidery and fruit/veggie stand
Trish’s Treats Hand crafted vegan, gluten free and nut free baked goods
Look for Companies that share your Values
In light of some of the recent events happening in the world today, I think most of us drastically underestimate our purchasing power or are too busy to take the time to think about it. It’s a basic principle of business, supply and demand. The more a particular item is bought the more it will be manufactured and sold. We can change policy simply by choosing products that are sustainable, local and ethically made. I know it’s not always possible to purchase everything locally but we can make our purchases count by finding companies that share our values.
Companies that are change-makers:
Farm Bound Organic grocery delivery and zero waste store
Mason Jar Lids Zero waste lifestyle supply company
Okanagan Rawsome Whole foods nutrient-dense crisps and dips
Vegliante Instagram @wearevegilante Organic local tempeh
Smart Skin Organics All natural organic skin and body care
One Big Table Cooperative-owned grocery store and eatery
Frankie, We Salute You! Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant and Bar
Salty Caramel Kitchen Vegan Cafe