"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Spending Power

My last post was about individual responsibilities and I have more to say about that now.
Governing bodies are cumbersome. They move ponderously and not always in the right direction. Time delays between ideas and action can be far too long. And then policies stall as the political power base changes. Action is much more effective at local level with individual commitment. So what inhibits us?
Our money gives us ‘spending power’. By choosing how we spend it, we can influence how shops stock their shelves, what goods are manufactured, the conditions in which they are manufactured. Our money can be a very powerful influence in all manner of ways that can affect our environment either directly or indirectly, for good or evil, when we have money available to spend. Supermarkets will justify their actions in stocking inappropriate products that we know to be environmentally unfriendly, or harmful in some other way, with the excuse that they are simply giving us what as consumers we demand. If we buy them they will continue to stock them. It really is that simple!
Are our spending patterns encouraging animal cruelty or slave labor in garment ‘sweat shops’? Appalling working conditions, child labor and poor pay still exist and we could be encouraging these without even realizing it.
The most effective and immediate impact we can all make is through changing our spending patterns. We are all in control of how we save, invest and spend, whether we choose ethical products, buy fair-trade and Traidcraft products, or perhaps give generously to aid agencies where we can be sure our money provides rapid relief.
We can and must fight to bring ethical trading in from the bottom up. We can enquire where our goods are produced and in what conditions and avoid all unreasonably cheap goods where we suspect that unethical working practices are present. If the information is not available, demand it.
Perhaps we could do more to support local enterprise. The local farmers’ markets promote respect for land and food. We could pay more for quality and eat less. Why not get back in touch with the seasons and eat foods at the right time of year when they are available locally. I am aware of the controversies over air miles versus the need to support foreign enterprise to help other communities; many of these stories must be considered on their own merits. Some of these choices may seem more expensive. But are they when balanced against the alternative predictions for our world? Does the suffering of fellow beings and the future of our planet matter so little to us that we are not prepared to change our habits today?

To be continued…

Adapted from Healing this Wounded Earth © Eleanor Stoneham 2011

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