As consumers we have powers and responsibilities:
- Vote with dollars – make principled purchases that reflect your beliefs and the way you think the world should work
- Buy more of less – use dollars to purchase smaller amounts of high quality goods (and the corollary, of course, is not purchasing large amounts of low quality, throw-away goods)
- Speak up – When you love a brand, but their labor or supply chain practices are out of line with your values, let them know. Send an email to the founder, Tweet to the marketing team, write a blog post about how you wish they would change (And share it widely).
- Activate the tribe – It’s not enough to yell into the great abyss of the internet. The more immediate change we can make is to activate our friends and family. Encourage them to make principled purchases as well. Help them learn about the importance of sustainable labor and resource practices without being a pretentious jerk.
- Praise as much as you protest – When you find a brand that aligns with your values… when you find a piece of clothing or furniture or food or [insert thing here] that is high quality and responsibly made… you have just as much of a responsibility to sing the company’s praises as you do to protest when companies are lazy. Don’t be an eternal critic, but rather an engaged consumer activist who offers both praise and protest. No one likes a pessimist.
I’ve written and tweeted openly about my disappointment in brands started by peers, like Foremost Edition, in the past. I have a hard time understanding why new brands are built on old, thoughtless principles…
Today, Foremost came out with Ed. No. 05 of their American-made clothing collection. And in it, they included two shirts made from organic hemp and organic cotton. I had nothing to do with the change, but I can say I was very vocal in my feedback to founder Matt Alexander.
And today, I made my first purchase from Foremost. Because I believe in the power of the responsible consumer’s manifesto.
Vote with your dollars. Buy more of less. Speak up. Activate the tribe. Praise as much as you protest.
But more than anything, care. Care deeply about the future. It starts with the way we live as individuals.
Thanks to Matt Alexander and the Foremost Edition team for the inspiration for today’s post.