Election season is upon us. Personally, I know I have found my blood pressure rising as I scroll through new articles and social media posts. There is much to be gained and much to be lost as we elect the leaders of our nation, state, and local communities. Often we get bogged down in the mud slinging and the corruption. Our family openly discusses politics and current events. I tell them it’s important to vote early and often. While this quote has an uncertain origin, it arose from the corruption of early 20th century Chicago political corruption. While meant as a tongue in cheek expression, I’d like to give it a new meaning. Personally, I vote every day. Here are ways you can as well.
Vote with your money:
Buy ethically traded goods
- Consider shopping through companies that exclusively sell ethically traded goods. This can be food (especially the items most often connected with unfair labor practices and the use of slaves such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and sugar), clothing, jewelry, housewares, décor, and pretty much anything you can think of. Supporting these organizations is a great way to impact the global community with jobs for those most at risk.
- While shopping at your local chain stores, restaurants, or online, look for ethically traded goods. Each time I go shopping I scan the same items on the grocery store shelves looking for new additions to organic items and ethically traded goods. If I purchase those items, I know the store will stock more. If you have a particular item that you love to get, let the store know and they may even consider stocking that item. Sometimes online shopping is just more practical, but if I’m searching for and purchasing items that demonstrate my commitment to fair trade practices, these companies will take note. They will see the market and if there is a demand, they will see that it’s supplied.
- Buy local. I love having a boxed farm share. Once a week I pick up a box of organically grown vegetables (no picking required, though that option is available for those more awesome than me). I know exactly where my food comes from, and who is growing it. Try your local farmer’s market or roadside stand. Whenever we travel, I try to find some local mom and pop restaurants to get a more authentic feel for the area. This is also true for when I’m home. Some of the best places to eat in town are the tiny joints that open up offering unique fare.
Buy from Small Business
- I’m not anti-corporation. I shop the big stores, eat in chain restaurants, and own technology made by the same major corporations that most of the world does. However, I also see the value in the little guy. Start with gifts. Can you buy a gift certificate for lessons for someone you care about? One Christmas we bought each of our kids lessons for something that they were really interested in. Each kid loved it and three different local instructors were supported. Do you have friends who run small businesses? Ask on FB and see who sells something and consider using them for your Christmas gift giving.
Vote with you Time
Write a review
- Authors, musicians, restaurant owners, artists on Etsy and other individuals would love you to write a review of your wonderful experience with them. These reviews can help them as they move forward in their careers. A good review on Goodreads, Amazon, or Etsy could help an author sell more books, music, or crafts which often means either supporting them and their families, or supplementing their income. A few minutes of your time can mean all the difference for them. Word of mouth works great as well. Take a few minutes to share with someone about this great new coffee shop that opened and serves ethically sourced goods or the shop you stopped by for the first time
Have a voice
- Write some letters, emails, or sign a petition. Send a letter to a company to praise their support of a charity event, suggest that they stock fair trade items, or sign a petition for something you believe in. You know how rare it is for people to go out of their way to compliment the boss of a sales associate, a manager, a waitress? Praise goes a long way in making the world a nice place. Most congressional members can be reached easily via email and will listen to your voice. They count up the people who are for or against issues and they assume that most people don’t call, so they consider you to be speaking for many other like minded individuals. Have a voice.
Looking for places to buy ethically traded products? Start here at our Ethical Shopping Guide.
Want to get in touch with your congressional representatives? Go here.
Keep learning about issues of injustice around the world through our website and follow us on Facebook.