How I Use My Pocketbook to Promote Change: The Conscious Consumer

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I don’t quite remember when I started to see my spending as power and an impetus for change. Maybe it was when I taught U.S. History and highlighted how the Montgomery Bus Boycotts were able to facilitate change, in part, because powerholders had finally been hit where it mattered- their pocketbook. For much of my adult life, I have tried to be a responsible environmental citizen.

Truth be told, I do feel like my family and I are pretty good at being environmentally conscience even if there is room for improvement. It can be overwhelming to look at the multitude of reports and news stories letting us know how close our Earth is to not being able to recover from our environmental impact on it.

In recent years we have heard a lot about the importance of being an informed and conscious consumer. Multiple surveys reflect the growing trend of consumers believing consumers (and companies) have a responsibility to be environmentally responsible in the production and consumption of goods. It can be hard though to know how to be a conscious consumer and to know how to use my pocketbook to promote change. That is why I love buying products from companies that are certified B Corporations, that are marked with their trademark “B”.   

I was first introduced to B Corporations (B Corp) and their philosophy of balancing purpose and profit about five years ago. When I decided to be more mindful of the choices I was making as a consumer, I remember feeling overwhelmed as I roamed the aisles of Target because I did not feel like I was well equipped to know which products I should buy to use my pocketbook to promote change. The shelves were lined with products donning creative marketing and vague claims of being eco-conscience. I knew I wanted to be more purposeful in how I spent my money. Mostly though, the whole process just felt overwhelming, especially when shopping with young kids in tow. That is why seeing the B Corp symbol is such an asset to me when I am making choices as a consumer. Seeing their trademark “B” on products provides me with the assurance that what I am purchasing sends the message that I care not only about the product but also who produced it, how it was produced and packaged, and what else the company is doing to be a positive change in the world. Companies that choose to be a member of B Corporation choose to meet criteria and standards not only for their products but also for their workers, customers, and the world. These standards are verified by a third party so consumers can feel confident about the products they buy from B Corp certified companies.

While budgetary restrictions and product necessity do not permit all products I buy to be B Corp certified, when I can, I try to buy B Corp certified products. I feel empowered that I can use my pocketbook to promote change when I purchase B Corp products. In fact, sometimes I am happily surprised to find a product I purchased has the trademark “B” on it when I hadn’t even thought to look for it. I am confident that many of you, have unknowingly purchased B Corp certified products.  

It has been inspiring to watch more and more companies choose to be a part of the B Corporation family because it helps to demonstrate that where we spend our money can force change. Companies see that consumers want to know their money is being spent on products produced by companies that care about more than the bottom line. While a company does not have to be a B Corporation certified company to do good (just look at the growing number of products in the aisles of any big box store claiming to), I appreciate that some of the hard work has been done for me. I do not have to stand in the aisle of Target googling an item to verify their product claims when I see the trademark “B” displayed on their product.

I know I cannot just shop my way to environmental change, it is after all only one cog in the vast machine of environmental change. (History though shows that it can be a pretty influential cog in that machine!) There is so much vying for our attention on a daily basis and so. many. tasks. we moms have to do each day that it can be hard to imagine caring about one more thing. Buying B Corporation products helps me use my pocketbook to promote change without adding to my workload. It helps me in the effort to help ensure the world is environmentally sound for my children and I will happily use the shortcut I can get. I’ve got enough other things to worry about! 

Some companies that are part of B Corporation

  • King Arthur Flour, Stonyfield Farm, Horizon Milk, Method, Tillamook, Bigelow Teas, Honest Co., Seventh Generation, Athleta, Beautycounter, Grove Collaborative, TOMS Shoes, Cause Box, and Ben & Jerry’s. 

You can browse the whole list here!

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