The Power Of One’s Money

This is one of the ideas that I adhere to most closely, the one that I not only vote once every 3 years in an election, but every day – when I buy things. Every single item I buy has influence, because the transaction talks the only truly international language – money. Let’s consider just one item, a tin of tomatoes, and dissect what we might be voting for when we part with our $1.20.

–       Large supermarket vs small grocer, or somewhere in between

–       Global vegetable supplier vs independent producer

–       Local vs overseas grown and processed

–       Shipped vs trucked vs flown

–       Organic vs pesticides

–       Additives vs none

–       Fair workers rights vs poor working conditions

I’m sure there are more factors one might be voting on in this circumstance, I welcome any additions via the comments section! Of course, you can also vote to not have packaging because after all, a tin of chopped tomatoes is just that – chopped tomatoes, which is not that hard to do.

Some votes are simple choices to make, ie I would suggest that if the supply chain were transparent then most shoppers would favour humanely slaughtered meat over non-humane. Others can be more difficult – I spent a good deal of time recently trying to choose between an organic coffee vs fair trade coffee, the deadlock in my head being broken by my dad who was keen to leave the supermarket (thankfully because I might have gone a bit loopy).

So, it is virtually impossible to be in control of every aspect above, and often one needs to choose between one area and another. Being a vote, everyone can make their own choice too, ie I might choose organic overseas products over chemical local ones, but others would sit on the other side of the fence. The point is, just this single item in your basket influences many people, animals and places in many other parts of the world – and this voting occurs with every item of every transaction.

Every purchase can also have unintended consequences, if one buys entirely from a big chain supermarket one should not be surprised to see the walking-distance fruit store close down, or if one favours cheaper overseas products there should not be complaints when local jobs are lost.

What I try to do is picture the perfect world I would like to live in, and vote for the products that best follow that path.

Small Habit, Big Change – be conscious of the signal your money is sending everytime you shop. Try thinking about it when you’re travelling to work instead of at the shop shelves.

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4 thoughts on “The Power Of One’s Money

  1. Thanks Schurno, insightful and inspiring as always.
    A little real life example of how it’s sometimes hard to assess our carbon footprint:
    A company that I work with is an Australian manufacturer of sultanas. They managed to secure an Australian grown crop but there is no packer of sultanas in Australia. They therefore had to ship the product to the middle east to be packed and ship it back to be distributed. This is a company that supplies the major supermarkets and despite their best efforts, could not service those volumes without a dedicated packer.
    For all intense and purposes, this is an Australian product, so remember to always read the fine print and petition for clearer label packaging so we can all make more informed choices.

    • That is horrible. I’ve learnt about the same thing happening in Sweden and Norway too, sending fish to Thailand to be scaled and filleted and then sent back…’fresh’. Makes me want to start up a packing plant, but I guess the reason all the plants shut down in the first place was because they paid their workers too much? So if I open my packing plant, will said company use my services? Love of money, the root of all evil?

  2. There is always a balance though, like local organic might be 3 times the price to overseas which is at the multi national supermarket. But the local guy only employs 3 people but the multi national has 1000.

    • Of course there’s a balance, that’s what I’m saying. We can all decide for ourselves…in your example, someone will think it’s more important that more workers have jobs, another person will think it’s more important to keep the jobs local and the earth sustainable. Who’s to say one’s choice is not important? My point is, we all need to be aware that everything we buy has this impact, and therefore we should shop with our ideal future in mind.

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