Looking to become more woke as a socially conscious consumer? It’s time to hit the socially conscious triad of consumer decisions.
1. Consumer Decision: Shop Socially Conscious
This is the first, and most accessible step. Take a moment before clicking “Buy” or pulling a product off the shelf. Change your definition of quality to “matching my values”.
If any of the following questions (or other questions you think of) apply to you, start keeping them in mind when you shop and you will automatically start shopping more consciously:
- How does this product/its packaging impact the environment?
- Under what conditions was this made?
- Are the ingredients/components sourced ethically?
- Are the ingredients/components sourced locally?
- Does this company promote fairness and equality among disadvantaged groups?
- Is this company actively involved in a political agenda?
- Does this company harm animals or promote animal cruelty?
- Are workers at this company treated fairly and honestly?
- Are workers paid living wages for where they live?
2. Consumer Decision: Invest Socially Conscious
There are a few terms floating through the business world like impact investing and financial values that you might have heard about. The idea is that your investment portfolio should match the socially conscious future you wish to see in the world.
Creating a more socially conscious investment portfolio can take more time and care than socially conscious purchasing decisions. The very first step is to talk to your financial advisor. Even if you are unsure whether your advisor will have all the answers for you off-hand, it is important that advisors see investor demand for more socially conscious investing.
- Take a look with your advisor at where your money is currently invested
- Ask the same questions about the companies you invest in that you thought were important above to buy goods/services from
- In addition to asking the important questions from above, if you can, find out exactly how the money you invest is being used — transparency is king
- If particular investments go against your values, start the process of divestment
- Find new investments that match your socially conscious values
3. Consumer Decision: Work Socially Conscious
This is the last and final piece of money flowing through the economic system in a socially conscious way: Do you earn money socially consciously?
If you are not a business owner, executive or senior manager, you may be tempted to say that you have no control over your workplace. Yet companies today, even large corporations, often do empower employees to have a voice in the workplace.
- Does your workplace match your personal values? For example, are you a vegan working at a deli that serves meat?
- If there is a disconnect between your values and your workplace, can you live with that? Sometimes the best way is to opt out and find another job or career, even if it takes time.
- Even when your workplace is not actively going against your values, is it actively promoting socially conscious values?
- If the answer to the above is yes, ask how you can participate in workplace activities that promote social consciousness
- If the answer is no, ask what you can do to start promoting socially conscious values, ex: Start a recycling program, have a volunteer day, sponsor an employee toy drive, even switch brands of coffee in the break room– it all makes a positive difference
4. Bonus Decision: Become More Conscious Overall
Conscious is the keyword in the term socially conscious to be aware of. As a consumer, it means being conscious of where you earn your dollars and how you spend them. Raising your level of consciousness in life, in general, will help raise your awareness in this area as well.
- Talk to people
- Read the local news
- Get involved in neighborhood associations and get to know your neighbors
- Walk, run or ride a bicycle– this helps a lot to really see what is going on at street level if you have the ability
- Shop in your local area in local businesses when possible
- Volunteer with nonprofits on your own or with your friends/family
Becoming more socially conscious is a courageous and fun journey, and there are many people out there to help you through. Best wishes and thank you for taking the first steps on this wonderful path.