One of the bright spots of this year was the time and space to think about our former routine and habits. Did we want to return to them or tweak them?
During all that time at home, we also had plenty of time to clean out our closets, refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and garage.
Maybe you did the same?
Being a 5 on the Enneagram and a default minimalist, I welcomed this decluttering. It made me feel a bit lighter in a heavy time.
It also kicked my mind into overdrive surrounding ethical consumerism.
- I watched garment workers go unpaid for clothes they already made.
- Warehouse essential workers were denied sick pay and proper PPE, even though their long hours made their company record profits.
- Shockingly, many hospital employees in the U.S. are also being denied hazard pay, even though they are the heroes in this fight.
- The rush to make unsafe cleaning products and hand sanitizer for outrageous prices left many with nasty side effects and less in their bank accounts.
I couldn't help but ask myself what purchases were we making that exacerbated these injustices?
In my mind, I use these filters to make purchasing decisions:
1) Will this product be good for our health and be safe for me and my family?
2) Was this product sourced ethically via wages paid and impacts to the environment?
3) What kind of company is the end distributor of this product?:
-Do they do business the right way?
-What kind of wages do they pay and hours do they mandate of employees?
-Do they knowingly sell toxic products and don't seem to care until busted?
-Do they give back to global relief or local charities?
-Would I be sad if they closed?
Putting those filters in place, here is where we are at with 11 categories of purchases.
My Purchases I Am Content With:
I realize the perfect scenario is to grow your own produce and raise your own protein. I look forward to my giving garden and the impact it will have someday, however I am not going for perfection here. I abide by the Dirty Dozen and try to find grass fed beef and organic chicken.
For the non-gardeners, we rely on a food chain in the U.S. that is accomplished by many global hands. All we can do is make sure that the food we buy is working for our bodies and that the retailers we purchase from are worthy of our dollars. Maybe along the way, we hear about brands using child labor (like Nestle) and we skip those products at the store. If we make changes along the way, that's ok.
I have found a few choice food retailers that I love supporting in my area for food.
One of them is Target. I was happy to see that Target continues to give employees raises and bonuses throughout this pandemic. I don't love every cleaning product that Target sells or the way every piece of clothing is manufactured, but I love that I can get a box of Lego's, a package of razors and a carton of lactose free milk in one trip and not pay for tax with the Red Card.
You can read more about the others in my Smart Shopping Guide found here.
2) Household Cleaners
4) Skin & Body Care
I group 2-5 together, because I buy these all from the same U.S. company that delivers straight to my doorstep. (Spoiler alert: It is not Amazon, but even more environmentally friendly in that what I buy from them comes in one box). I have been doing business with this company for four years and have been nothing but impressed.
I continue to buy from this company because of their safe products, the ethical way they do business and their sourcing of global goods. To date, I have not found any other company that does business the way they do with the breadth of product they carry. (Case in point: I can get both a pack of non-toxic baby wipes and a box of gluten free pancake mix from France here.)
It's the only store I shop where I no longer have to read labels, because every product is safe and health-promoting. (P.S. I still read the labels).
I watched closely as they covered all their bases during this pandemic and still managed to give back to the community in these ways:
A) We are working with Baby2Baby to fulfill needs for baby essentials and personal care items in family resource centers, homeless shelters, health clinics and Head Start centers across the nation.
B) We donated over 400 pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank after temporarily closed our on-site cafe at Global Headquarters.
C) We offered the use of the former U.S. corporate building in Lehi, Utah, to the Utah Department of Health as hospital overflow.
D) Our Foundation donated 1,728 boxes of True Grit Einkhorn Flake Cereal to the Cereal Project, which distributed the cereal to aid local schoolchildren and families.
E) We donated 500 packs of our Seedlings Baby Wipes to Silicon Slopes Serves to aid their short supply. This donation will be sent to One Utah Child Care programs.
F) Our most recent donation to the Tracy Aviary will help this important institution through this tough time. The aviary's gates are closed for the time being, so it relies on donations to continue caring for birds and maintaining their grounds and facilities.
G) We donated 1 percent of all North American proceeds from our most popular product line through the month of March 2020 to Meals on Wheels. The total donation--$233,767--was given directly to the Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund.
These are the kind of companies that get my dollars--every month.
My Purchase Areas I Am Actively Working On:
Although we have ditched plastic water bottles for good by purchasing a Berkey Water System, we still have our vices.
Like many households, we go through a lot of tea and a pot of coffee at our house everyday.
I am trying to do better at sourcing tea and coffee brands that are organic, local, and fair trade for these reasons:
A. Coffee and tea production make a huge impact on wages for millions of workers around the world.B. Tea leaves are routinely sprayed with chemicals, some of which are known to disrupt thyroid function in the body.C. Local tea and coffee shops are some of the hardest hit during this pandemic. I love visiting independently owned shops like The Nile in Mesa, Infusion Coffee & Tea in Tempe, Alternative Fuel in Rapid City or The Daily in Bozeman. Will they make it past this? It is up to us--the consumers-- to make sure of it. Call your favorite coffee shop today and order a pound of coffee. They will be delighted you did!
I am focusing on thoughtful gift-giving this Christmas, not just mass produced plastic goods in a box. Like coffee shops, gift shops are also strained for cash right now. Many are closing for good. I can't wait to support local and online gift shops that make ethical goods this Christmas. Do you have any favorites? Drop them in comments.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Love & Lava Designs--local AZ jewelry maker who is also a teacher. I love her gemstone bracelets. Many diffuser bracelets aren't made with real gemstones like these are.
Honeybee Wraps--Made in Australia eco conscious food wraps and bags in the cutest prints.
Passion Planner--(use my code JACEY10 at checkout and I will send you stickers!). My absolute fave paper planner. Now carrying a digital version!
I am also going to be ordering a few artisan made gifts from my favorite online retailer in 2, 3, 4, and 5 above. I am currently eyeing the wool dryer balls, handmade wood trees for mantle decorations and the advent calendar. These purchases will support women entrepreneurs in poverty-stricken areas in both the U.S. and globally.
Makes for a feel good Christmas season to see the joy in the eyes of people I love opening these gifts that were made ethically and with love.
This is the area of the most awareness and movement right now at our house. I used to love my trips to TJ Maxx, because it felt like a luxury garage sale. Now, we take those trips to Goodwill instead.
At some point during this pandemic, I went through my closet and started to ask myself, "who made all of this?"
Then the #PayUp movement started and I was even more motivated to feel good shop for my closet.
One of the saddest business closure stories I read in the last few months was this clothing maker in Nashville having to shut their doors and put all their seamstresses on unemployment indefinitely. They made the cutest, timeless linen shorts. Really bums me out that I won't ever get to own a pair now.
This is an area of constant discussion and learning at our house, because I have a ten year old and 13 year old daughter. Clothes are a big part of the teenage years, but I also want to teach them many of the fast fashion brands are made by girls their age in unsafe factories around the world. Yet, many of these children are earning wages that their families desperately need for food and rent. So, what do we do?
Keep asking questions and seeking better options.....
I love what LA is doing for the Made in USA fashion movement. Check out an article on that here.
For now, I am loving not needing to buy as many work clothes. What about you?
Three Areas I Still Don't Have a Clue:
I seriously want to get rid of my Apple products after learning that Apple stashes all of its billions offshore, so as not to pay corporate income tax here in the good ol' USA. Not to mention some of the rumors coming out of Apple factories in Asia. Plus, the way they source raw materials also brings up concerns of child labor.
Why can't we just have a cell phone manufacturer that isn't all about greed and pillage? We use these pocket computers every dang day, for heaven's sake.
Do you know of any options here? Please share them in comments if you do.
Two words: plastic and batteries.
Soft, plastic toys like rubber duckies--straight up toxic!
Battery consumption goes without saying...
Does that mean every toy has to be wood?
What about Legos?
Clearly I need to do some more research here, but I think it's a safe bet that we have consumed just as much plastic in toys, costumes & dolls the last 13 years, as we have plastic water bottles.
As far as I know, plastic doesn't compost real fast.
Who makes these toys? Do they get paid fairly?
What about all these toy retailers going out of business? (i.e. Toys R Us)
When was the last time you visited a locally owned toy store?
Again, please share your thoughts and research below.
I know after doing a minute of research that much of our new furniture is coated with materials that off-gas into the air in our homes. These off-gases can turn out to be fairly toxic to the human body.
This includes mattresses, upholstered items and even wood furniture with all of its stains and varnishes.
Who makes this furniture?
I guess it's a safe bet to buy antique?
What do you do for new furniture purchases?
In conclusion, we are all at different points in this journey. I am not sure anyone has really mastered all of these categories, but if you have made progress in any of these areas please do share in the comments.
For now, if you want to know how I cut my shopping time for essentials in half you can find my Smart Shopping Guide here or join my Full & Filtered Life Facebook group here where we chat about these topics all the time.
Have a Marvelous Day,