Nov 23, 2008

Vote, every day

The presidential election is over, the ballots have been counted, and we've done our civic duty for the next four years. But is that it? Is voting at the polls the most participation that we get in our democracy?

We actually vote every single day in the US.... with our dollar. Every time we choose to purchase something (or choose not to), we are voting for the kind of world we want to live in. Whether you're buying food, clothing, holiday decorations, furniture, music, whatever, you are speaking up for the type of system that will dominate our future.

So if human rights and fair labor conditions are important to you, think about where those shoes you're planning to buy are made and who is making them. Then decide if those shoes are worth it to you to register your vote for a continuation of sweatshop and child labor.

If sustainable, small family farms are important to you, ask where your frozen veggies are being grown, and find an alternative that is grown locally.

If protecting the environment is important to you, be aware that those new towels or sheets you're getting a great deal on are almost certainly made from conventional cotton- which is one of the worst users of pesticides.

If keeping money in the local community (and not lining the pockets of overpaid CEOs) is important to you, explore your locally-owned stores and see if one of them might be selling whatever item you've traveled to a big-box store to purchase.

Fair trade items, union-made items, organic items, locally-grown food, and shopping in your downtown businesses usually are a bit more expensive, and there is a reason for that. You are paying the people involved a livable wage. You are paying for skills, and risks, and quality. You can feel good about where your dollar is going- to pay someone what it costs for them to make your product. And if more people were paid enough to get by, there would be less poverty and welfare and inequality in this country. If you're not voting for that, you're voting for poor working conditions, wages that keep workers in poverty, pollution, corporate greed, pesticides, and the death of your downtown community. And even though you might be voting with less dollars, that vote has just as much impact.

So buy a little less (not buying that cheap plastic doodad is a vote too), and when you do buy, pay a little more for local, or organic, or fair trade, or handmade, because your dollar is your vote, every day, whether you like it or not.

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