Do You Use Your Purchase Power?
It's definitely not a stretch to say that we've entered really rough times in our country and actually, around the globe. With access to the internet and social media, we're constantly seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, lately I've been feeling that the bad and the ugly are much more prevalent than the good.
I actually pointed this out to my sister a few weeks ago. I scrolled through top news stories, memes, and videos of the most depressing and hateful things. Granted they were punctuated by funny memes, beauty and fashion tips, and pets doing crazy things, but the bad, depressing stuff definitely seems to dominate my timeline. Plus this kind of mash up of the tragic and then the frivolous, can make you feel slightly bi-polar. One minute you're cracking up over a dog dressed up in a cute costume, and the next you're so heartbroken or angry over the latest viral news bite, you could burst.
I'm fully aware that certain things which appear to be happening more now, like racism and sexism for instance, have always existed in society. It's just that now, we have such increased access and almost a hyper-awareness of what is going in the world. On one hand, it's absolutely marvelous we can share an injustice or wrong that has been done to us. We can get more help and rally support behind important causes that will help bring about change. On the other hand, it's so damn depressing and makes me feel helpless. Some days, I avoid it all and stay offline until I absolutely have to be get back on. Then I feel guilty that I'm not staying informed, and the cycle starts all over again.
What's more, I was raised to stay on top of what's going on. Keeping myself educated is second nature, and now that I'm also a business owner and mother, it's that much more important. Yet lately, all of this awareness is making me feel more and more powerless. When I see that another woman has been victimized, or another person of color has been brutalized because of their skin color, I think...what can I really do? I'm just over here making handbags, trying to solve a fashion problem when the world is in such real turmoil.
I constantly struggle with this idea. My background is in nonprofit management, and I once served as an AmeriCorps member. Right out of graduate school, I signed up and moved out to San Francisco as a Volunteer in Service to America (better known as AmeriCorps*VISTA). I remember telling people that I was doing community service for a year...and they always asked me what I did wrong. Apparently no one's ever heard of AmeriCorps, and they think the only way you can perform community service is through some sort of legally mandated punishment. But that really was a time that I cherish in my life. I was so very poor, but also so very happy. I was helping others, while doing a ton of self discovery.
In light of everything that's been going on lately, I find myself reminiscing on the days that I was my most selfless. Now, I'm either too tired and exhausted from work and parenthood to even think about volunteering for a cause. This struggle between the time constraints of my current life, and still wanting to make a difference in some way is what inspired me to donate a portion of my sales to help others in need. There's nothing like getting your hands dirty and volunteering your time, but when you feel like you're just too busy to squeeze another thing into your life, perhaps using your purchase power can be another effective solution.
I mean let's face it. A lot has changed today, and I think the one thing that almost everyone can rally around is where they're spending their hard-earned money. Since we all know that money talks, perhaps we can begin to use this knowledge as a strategy to show what we truly care about. We can become more selective when purchasing from companies, who may not operate with same values we deem important. We can show our support not only through donations to our favorite causes, but by supporting brands that are doing good. That's why this year, I'm making a conscious effort to make more purchases from companies that are helping others, are run by leaders who can effect change, or take a public stance on values that I can relate to. It's just another way that I can feel less helpless in this crazy world, and do something small that makes me feel good.