Vote with your dollar

[Originally published on January 6, 2008]

In early 2006 I started a blog called Change Your World, with the sub-title “Little, everyday things you can do to make your world a better place”. I then wrote a whopping six posts before running out to things to talk about (read: getting lazy). The goal of the blog was not to be another (annoying) voice cheerleading “Yeeeay recycling! Yeeeay organic!” to “save the world”, but to point out that doing things like recycling and eating organic is better for YOU; believe it or not, it’s usually the selfish thing to do.
Further, it was an effort to get folks (including myself) thinking about the “net impact” of a product/service; about all the externalities associated with production, raw materials, transport, and so on. My opening postargued that buying recycled, eco-friendly toilet paper reduced cancer risk (possible dioxins and formaldehyde in regular tp!) while improving children’s health, preserving the environment, and saving water. It’s a bold call (I was unemployed at the time if that explains anything), but these days a growing number of folks are talking about the “total cost” of a product; for example, here’s a NYT article that talks about “food miles”, or how far food has traveled before you buy it.
To that end, though resolutions come and go I intend to make an effort this year to be (even more) conscious about how I “vote with my dollar“. Each time I spend money, I voice support for what I buy (these days, I really, really support San Francisco’s bars/clubs). Buying recycled toilet paper is not only better for me and better for my world, but it also sends a (small) message to the folks over at Charmin that I care about me and my world — and that they should too if they care about their profits (or the profits from a  Ultra-Soft 16-roll pack, anyways).
This year, I’m going to make more of an effort to vote organic and free-range (over processed and themeatrix). And to vote local (over food transported from across the globe). And to vote fair-trade (over, um, unfair-trade).
You get the idea.
For anyone interested in everyday impact, here were the six posts I made to my “change your world” blog: 
Volunteer your PC through the World Community Grid
Reach for the Nalgene instead of the Evian
Don’t just search…GoodSearch!
Changing the world is as simple as changing your homepage
Loan $25 (or more) to change lives through KivaWash your hands

[One comment from Obi: "How is that recycled paper thing going for your crack?
I hear it’s rough…
No seriously."
[One comment from Vijay: "Reached here from your Kiva lender page. Haven’t read all the posts yet, but you’ve got a nice blog here."


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