Sept. 9, 2021

4. Socially responsible shopping- is there any point?


Today's letter is about socially responsible shopping:

My twin says that socially responsible shopping is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. What do you think?

So your twin’s a skeptic. It’s good to keep skeptics around. What’s funny is that your twin’s attitude might be a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, at least as far as socially conscious purchasing goes. 

People who think the world is getting better are more likely to shop consciously. 58% of the optimists versus 42% of the pessimists. Interesting, the lowest percentage of socially conscious shoppers are the people who think the world is about the same as it has always been. 34% of those folks shop consciously. That research is linked below.

Does shopping consciously make you more hopeful about the future because you are taking action, or does feeling hopeful empower you to try to make changes like shopping consciously? I’m not sure. 

As an aside, if you had a covid19 diagnosis in the past year, you are also more likely to shop consciously, 50% versus 39%. And as many studies have pointed out before, people ages 18-34 are more likely to shop consciously as are women. 

But I guess your question is getting at whether or not socially conscious shopping makes an impact. 

I think it might.

There are lots of surveys where consumers have made it clear that they care about a company’s practices and that it is one of the most important drivers in their decision to buy.  I think the real proof might be in where consumers actually shop, not where they say they’ll shop. And they are buying from companies who have a clearly stated mission to be socially responsible. You could think about specific companies like TOMS shoes who donate a pair of shoes every time you buy a pair of their shoes. There are shoes of the same quality that are much cheaper, but still, many many consumers prefer to buy TOMS.

If you look at the fashion industry, there’s been a real conversation about the harms of so called “fast fashion." Thrifting your clothes was not a widespread trend in the 80s or 90s or in the early 2000s. Things have changed so much in the past decades. Thrifting is widely viewed in the US as environmentally conscious and a way to demonstrate your own creativity and identity. More and more brands have popped up that are committed to sustainable manufacturing methods including using recycled fibers and reducing the environmental harms in other ways too. At the same time, there’s still a fledgling conversation about the working conditions for the people who make the clothes we buy and wear. 

Spending your dollars consciously with companies that are committed to social responsibility isn't the entire solution by any stretch of the imagination, but it is something. When given the choice between two products, if you know that one company is a better global citizen than another, and you can afford to make the more socially responsible choice, then go for it.

On this show, we talk about how we can use our money as a tool in three different ways- through our spending, donating, and investing. If being socially responsible is a value that orients you in how you interact with others, the way you show up in your community, in your work, in your family, on this planet, then it makes sense that it will show up in how you shop too.

Links:
Data on socially responsible shopping:
https://goodmustgrow.com/cms/resources/ccsi/gmg2020ccsipages.pdf
https://clutch.co/pr-firms/resources/how-corporate-social-responsibility-influences-buying-decisions

To submit your letter to the show, email spenddonateinvest@gmail.com

To support the show visit buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate)
Transcript

Today's letter is about socially responsible shopping:

My twin says that socially responsible shopping is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. What do you think?

So your twin’s a skeptic. It’s good to keep skeptics around. What’s funny is that your twin’s attitude might be a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, at least as far as socially conscious purchasing goes. 

People who think the world is getting better are more likely to shop consciously. 58% of the optimists versus 42% of the pessimists. Interesting, the lowest percentage of socially conscious shoppers are the people who think the world is about the same as it has always been. 34% of those folks shop consciously. That research is linked below.

Does shopping consciously make you more hopeful about the future because you are taking action, or does feeling hopeful empower you to try to make changes like shopping consciously? I’m not sure. 

As an aside, if you had a covid19 diagnosis in the past year, you are also more likely to shop consciously, 50% versus 39%. And as many studies have pointed out before, people ages 18-34 are more likely to shop consciously as are women. 

But I guess your question is getting at whether or not socially conscious shopping makes an impact. 

I think it might.

There are lots of surveys where consumers have made it clear that they care about a company’s practices and that it is one of the most important drivers in their decision to buy.  I think the real proof might be in where consumers actually shop, not where they say they’ll shop. And they are buying from companies who have a clearly stated mission to be socially responsible. You could think about specific companies like TOMS shoes who donate a pair of shoes every time you buy a pair of their shoes. There are shoes of the same quality that are much cheaper, but still, many many consumers prefer to buy TOMS.

If you look at the fashion industry, there’s been a real conversation about the harms of so called “fast fashion." Thrifting your clothes was not a widespread trend in the 80s or 90s or in the early 2000s. Things have changed so much in the past decades. Thrifting is widely viewed in the US as environmentally conscious and a way to demonstrate your own creativity and identity. More and more brands have popped up that are committed to sustainable manufacturing methods including using recycled fibers and reducing the environmental harms in other ways too. At the same time, there’s still a fledgling conversation about the working conditions for the people who make the clothes we buy and wear. 
 
Spending your dollars consciously with companies that are committed to social responsibility isn't the entire solution by any stretch of the imagination, but it is something. When given the choice between two products, if you know that one company is a better global citizen than another, and you can afford to make the more socially responsible choice, then go for it.
On this show, we talk about how we can use our money as a tool in three different ways- through our spending, donating, and investing. If being socially responsible is a value that orients you in how you interact with others, the way you show up in your community, in your work, in your family, on this planet, then it makes sense that it will show up in how you shop too.

Links:
Data on socially responsible shopping:
https://goodmustgrow.com/cms/resources/ccsi/gmg2020ccsipages.pdf
https://clutch.co/pr-firms/resources/how-corporate-social-responsibility-influences-buying-decisions
 
To submit your letter to the show, email spenddonateinvest@gmail.com
To support the show visit buymeacoffee.com/spenddonate