As we take a deep exhale to a year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic act as a catalyst for complete change, we’re reminded of the light 2020 has brought us. We’ve learned to slow down, open our eyes to injustice, and we’ve learned to determine who and what truly matters. It has naturally given us the ability to individually and collectively choose how to show up for the planet and for its people, too. One of the most effective ways to actually make a difference in the world is thinking about where you choose to spend your money.
Many individuals are now taking a stand against the run of mass overproduction by holding big brands accountable for the impact of their product volumes and the waste they leave behind. Instead, they are putting their dollars towards the planet and their communities. In fact, American Express’ 11th annual Small Business Saturday reached a record high on December 3rd, 2020, with an estimated 19.8 billion in reported spending. For this new year, make an effort to spend money in ways that align with your values and generate revenues for communities, families, and individuals of color. Here are few tips to help you shop mindfully throughout the new year:
According to Forbes, this year, Amazon’s revenue went up about 35% and Walmart’s revenue went up 10.5%. In contrast, 60% of small businesses have shut down since March 2020. Not only does shopping local create strong communities, but it also recycles revenue back into the local economy, keeping the local economic ecosystem healthy. It’s also good for the environment. Locally owned businesses often make local purchases, which requires less transportation, cutting down on fuel emissions and benefiting the environment. Consider putting your dollars towards your local businesses.
Support BIPOC businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright spotlight on inequities within our society as the virus has had an outside impact on BIPOC communities and businesses. While many small businesses have been hit hard this year, BIPOC-owned businesses have suffered disproportionality, according to an analysis from the Federal Reserve. Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 41% of Black-owned business in the United States have been forced to close their doors—more than any other racial group. Shopping your values goes beyond choosing sustainable products or biodegradable shipping materials—it extends to the different communities you support. Your dollars can be put to work by investing in communities that are otherwise underserved. By supporting BIPOC-owned businesses and other marginalized communities, you’re not only helping these communities grow, you’re also helping shrink the racial wealth gap. Only 1.3% of the U.S. sales goes to Black-owned businesses, despite the fact that nearly 15% of the population is Black and 2.5 million Black-owned businesses exist. Check out Support Black Owned, a website that helps you find Black-owned businesses from all over the country. Here are a few BIPOC-owned brands to help you get started.
Shop sustainably and ethically
There is a delusion that worker exploitation doesn’t exist in the United States, but underground sweatshops are at the core of many big corporations that rely on the labor of undocumented works. Mass overconsumption culture promotes rampant consumerism and exploitation of people. It also fuels overproduction which increases pollution and harms the planet. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and more than 15 billion total pieces of mail this holiday season. Many of these packages will contain garments made from polyester, nylon or acrylic. These materials tend to shed microfibers as they are worn, washed and outgrown. Microfibers are micro-plastics and contribute to 35% of primary micro-plastics polluting our rivers and oceans. To support each other and the planet, shop sustainable brands that focus on quality, using materials and finishes that are made to last as well as being kind to the environment.
As a business, we know that actions speak louder than words when it comes to forming relationships in our communities and making an impact on where people choose to do their business. Today, this season, and always, make conscious choices, build up your communities and remember your purchase power.