I just finished reading about (and entering) Amy's newest challenge over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess and, as usual, she has inspired me to post about it too. One thing she pointed out, which we all need to remember, is that we vote with our money. Every time we spend a buck we are voting for something. If I forgo shopping at the small businesses in our town and go to a large chain instead, then I am voting for the small businesses to shut down. I actually think this money-vote is more important than any other type of vote. You can tell where someone's allegiances lie by looking over their bank statement.
The most money-voting is done during the Christmas season. Just as people lined up into parking lots to cast votes for Obama or McCain, they will also line up to vote at Wal-Mart and Best Buy and Toys-R-Us on Black Friday. Jordan and I will not be there, because we have already voted by absentee ballot. I bought several gifts at Nubius Organics, which stocks eco-friendly, fair-trade products often made by small companies. I bought two little sock monkeys from My Mommy's Place on Etsy. In just a minute I'm going to place an order with The Hunger Site Store. That's a vote I'm particularly proud of. Not only is rice donated with each purchase, but the items are handmade and fair-trade, and many of them are made in training programs which allow women to learn a marketable trade and support their families. Soon we will be attending a local alternative gift fair where shoppers can make donations in the names of the people on their list. There are a ton of good things you can vote for there--for the promise of fresh eggs or milk for a family in an impoverished country; for a child living in poverty to discover the joy of reading; for a rape victim to have a new set of clothing to wear home from the hospital when her own clothes have been kept for evidence. There will even be handmade material gifts to buy.
What are you planning to vote for this Christmas season? Will you vote for more products to be made on U.S. soil? Will you vote for less packaging waste? Will you let some Etsy merchants know you want them to keep at it because they are doing a great job? Will you demand safer toys for our children?
I have already seen this at work. Have you been to the Target toy section lately? It was once full of typical noisy plastic toys. Then moms started raving over Haba and Plan's gorgeous wooden playthings. They just couldn't seem to find what they wanted at old Targee'. That's when oodles of wooden toys and things that encouraged imaginative play started popping up on Target's shelves! (Yeah--I know the dumb stuff is still there too. Unfortunately people still buy it.) The point is, your vote does count. At Jennie G's, if we purchase a product from a company and no one buys it, do you think we are going to reorder? Of course not. We'd go out of business! Big stores make decisions the same way.
It all goes hand-in-hand, but Amy's platform is that we should vote for less plastic. (And if you are buying Suzi a gift, please oblige.) This means not only buying fewer plastic toys, but also buying things that don't use up a bunch of plastic and styro packaging, or requesting that they be packaged in paper instead if possible. I have already signed up for this challenge and I think you should too. Amy will even give you some link love as a reward.