Now, I will fully admit that I have been up on my soapbox a lot this month It’s not that I’m feeling feisty though – I just have had a lot of thoughts running through my mind about everything from parenting to religion to plain old what to eat for dinner! My dilemma on coffee yesterday brought about an interesting train of thought to my already overburdened head, so you’ll have to forgive me for
thinking writing out loud _uacct = “UA-4888259-1″;urchinTracker();
If you are long-time reader of my blog, you will know that I am very passionate about the triumvirate of food in my world: organic, local and clean. Having read and researched and talked about this for a while now, I know that it is what is best for my family and that with a little bit of work, it could be made right for almost any family. I mean, after all – isn’t that the kind of food that human beings have survived on for thousands upon thousands of years?? This whole global food system is truly less than a century old. Don’t get me wrong though – I have yet to find away to eat organic, local and clean 100% of the time. I try to have most of my food meet at least one of those criterion, if not two. The home run is great when I can get it, but I’m far from perfect and sometimes I just want to eat marshmallows!
But that isn’t my point today. Far too much organic, fair trade coffee running through these veins is making me easily distracted again…
My point is this: our dollars spent affect change more so than any protesting or preaching will. Case in point: Greenpeace in the oilsands. God love ‘em for what they are trying to do, but the point is lost when you realize they had to drive up there … see what I mean? So when I shop, I want my money to do the talking for where I stand ethically because ultimately, it is the consumer who drives the demand. I believe in fair trade, I discourage sweat-shop production and I dislike multi-national corporations, but sometimes I am faced with hard choices and feel backed into a corner by my conscience and my pocketbook.
What really got me thinking is the idea of shopping at Walmart or Superstore, versus my local food store or Farmers’ market. I try to make a lot of my purchases count locally, whether it be at the markets or simply by shopping a locally owned and operated stores. There are certain things that I refuse to budge on too – I won’t buy my meat unless I know the farmer, and I will not buy coffee that isn’t fair trade. No grey area there! There are times, however, when it makes sense to shop at the discount chains, like when you are comparison shopping for the same item: doesn’t it make more sense to save a few bucks at Superstore on some Crayola crayons, versus paying more for them elsewhere? But then there are also the things that you go to Walmart or Superstore for because their in-house line is cheaper, and that is where my personal conflict lies:
Now, given the choice I would rather shop local but there are times when it just is not feasible for me! The biggest dilemma I’ve been facing (which is rather small compared to the woes of the world, but humour me…) has been regarding winter boots for my bugz. Oh that I wish I could have children of different ages and enjoy the magic of hand-me-downs!! I would shell out the money for high-quality clothes if I knew they would be worn by 2 or 3 kids, for more than 2 or 3 months before heading to Goodwill. Alas, these 2 monkeys wear the same size shoes/boots/whatever, which leads me to buying 2 of everything seasonal: 2 bathing suits, 2 spring coats, 2 pairs of rubber boots, 2 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of snowsuits, 2 pairs of winter boots … 10 million pairs of socks and mittens that get lost … you get the idea.
There are lots of Canada-made companies to outfit my cute little girls, but because of their small market, the prices are, ahem, high. And rightfully so: they are providing a superior product without it being at the expense of 4-year old slaves in developing countries. I do splurge here and there on things that I know will last us awhile or that are for special occasions. When I get right down to it though, I simply cannot afford to buy 2 pairs of $60 boots each winter. I wish I could, but I quite simply cannot spend $120 on winter boots! So instead, I find myself bargain hunting through the Walmarts and Superstores for boots that are under $20 a pair. Even that, dear readers, is a rare find. $25/pair seems to be the going rate.
Thus, the conflict of conscience versus economy. Where do I draw the line? Is it okay to buy them cheap, exploitative merchandise for the benefit of being able to pay the rest of my bills? Can I soothe my conscience by knowing that I would buy the more ethical merchandise if I were able to use it longer, thus recouping the cost over time? Or am I just copping out of my ethical standpoint? Can one “stock up” on good karma in other areas to smooth over the sometimes-necessary transgressions needed to maintain a healthy bank account during lean times, or is it an all-or-none situation?
So much grey. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, or your own solutions to this problem!