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Shop Small...And Start a Revolution – March 17, 2012
As I noted here last month, I wrote an article (now online) for Natural Life Magazine’s March/April 2012 issue about how seemingly small decisions about our purchasing habits can make us part of a grassroots effort to fix what is wrong with our economy. But doing that is not easy, and here’s why.

Now that subscribers have had the issue for a few weeks, I’ve received some feedback. A number of readers thanked me for what they believe is an important article that encourages important initiatives. One person suggested that my recommendations – such as joining a food co-op or CSA; buying locally made goods; using credit unions instead of banks; dealing directly with the producer; frequenting small, independently-owned businesses; and avoiding the corporate culture (singling out Amazon.com) – are far from small decisions and take major effort. And one woman called me names, including “pretentious,” “arrogant,” and the bearer of “misinformed misogynistic propaganda.”

So is it difficult to change one’s spending habits in order to turn around the old greed- and growth-based, winners versus losers economy and create something more equitable and sustainable? It’s probably more of a challenge in some places than in others. And not everyone has the time or talents to create their own alternatives where none exist. But we make such decisions (and undertake any extra effort that may be involved) based on priorities, on how important we believe the problem or the outcome to be. As business guru Seth Godin wrote on his blog, “We say we want a revolution...Of course, what we say doesn't matter so much. What we do is what matters....”

As for the name calling, there is a study about branding out of the University of Illinois to explain that. Apparently, many people go on the attack when someone criticizes their favorite brand because it’s seen as a threat to their self-image (self-image is very important in our narcissistic society). So perhaps my insulter has an emotional relationship (the study authors call it a self-brand connection or SBC) with some brand or other and took my criticism of Amazon, for instance, personally. Apparently, the residual effect of SBC is that people tend to discount negative news about their favorite brands and even rewrite reality.

To summarize: If we’re to be part of an economic revolution, we need to put our money where our mouths are…but that’s not easy because the corporate culture has us hooked in. At the same time, the problems can seem overwhelming and make us feel powerless sometimes. Individual action is not the whole solution, of course, because the issues are systemic and bigger than any one of us. But these personal lifestyle changes can make a difference, if only we decide to make the effort.
Posted: 2012/03/17 11:05 AM


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