the power of $$

I don’t go to WalMart. I’m sure they’ve made strides since their last HR, sweatshop, and environmental fiascos. Unfortunately, my statute on forgiveness is, like, 15 years.

If I can buy something local, at a small business rather than a chain, I make every effort to do so.

For Pete’s sake, we didn’t buy anything new for a whole year. (Well, almost.)

Money is power. It’s voice. Especially in economic times like these, choosing to (or not to) spend your dollar somewhere is a personal and powerful statement. Not all businesses will make it: we have influence over who does and does not survive.

This is where my quandary comes in. And it starts with Bubby.

If you don’t know him, let me state that for the purposes of this discussion, he is practically gigantic and weighs a bagillion pounds.

He crushes our mattresses into tacos within a matter of months. This is a problem.

The bed we bought under two years ago had become, after rotating it appropriately, a ‘w’. He had his valley and I had mine. No one was sleeping well.

And thus it was decided to buy a new mattress. A king-sized mattress, no less. (Did I mention gigantic?)

I’ve lost track of the number of mattresses we’ve gone through in our cohabitation, and each iteration I’ve felt increasingly sick over not buying an environmentally-friendly mattress.

In the past it has seemed that, like Birkenstocks (no offense my sandal-wearing friends), environmental mattresses had a bulky design and were unnecessarily expensive.

So this time I did some research, we drove to Fairfield to Keetsa, and we bought an “eco-mattress.” It has a 20 year warranty and was less expensive as the last eco-hating mattress we bought two years ago.

Apparently e-friendly mattresses and Birkenstocks are getting more fashionable!

Wonderful, right? I supported a business whose mission is in line with my personal environmental vision (aside from the fact that they had 409 and other chemical-ly cleaners in the bathroom… ahem… consistency!) and it was within my means.

Since we are upgrading to a king size (Allie inherited our queen set up and we’re selling her twin), we need new bedding.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky.

In my mission to find bamboo (preferred) or organic cotton (second choice) bedding, I’m running into two issues: 1) there is nothing available locally and 2) what is available online is tremendously expensive.

My motive isn’t entirely noble. Not only do I want to support businesses that are striving to create products and use processes that are thoughtful and non-harming, I also don’t want to inhale chemical whatevers while I sleep, potentially altering my hormones, giving myself allergies, and increasing my contact with carcinogens.

With Allie back in private school, the clothes dryer possibly blowing its last breath, and of course, the new bed, tremendously expensive is not in my budget.

And so I find myself becoming more aware of what’s influencing my decisions. Asking questions about money and motivation and sacrifice (a word I’m using quite loosely here).

In the hope that you, dear reader, and your wallet would like to join the conversation, here are a few questions for reflection, broken into two categories. Please jump in!

1. Business Mission/Values
How much does your support of a business depend on the values of that business?
Have you ever boycotted a business? If so, why?
How do you feel about chain or corporate stores/sites?

2. Environmental Motivation
How much do environmental concerns impact your consumer decisions?
As my mom asserts, recycled paper products—TP, paper towels, printing paper, etc.—are out of her budget. How does cost of the environmentally-friendly option play into your decisions?
What sacrifices are you willing to make to be green?
Is there an image motivation to be green?

***

BTW, I’ll be ordering a wool blanket (on clearance), a bamboo blanket (from ebay), and holding off on the bamboo coverlet and shams I want. If money talks, mine is saying save me!!

***

Feel free to share your favorite businesses, online resources, green go-tos. Hugs and groans and griping also welcome. Please refrain from giving advice or problem solving. =)

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4 Responses to “the power of $$”


  1. 1 Diane August 10, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I agree with supporting your local business….especially when the business employees are local and continue to spend in town. That all makes sense to me so expertise and training can happen! and town has additional tax basis.

  2. 2 Leili August 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I try to/like to support local businesses. I’ll admit, however, that I’ve made a *lot* of purchases from Amazon.com because they had the best deal. Of course, my savings comes at an added cost to the environment of having the items shipped to me. But it’s difficult to pay $5 – $20 more for an item out of my own pocket in order to buy local.

    I hadn’t set foot in a Wal-Mart for years up until last week. I tagged along with my parents one day and ended up buying patio furniture cushions because I couldn’t find any at the other (big box) stores I had browsed. That was kind of strange. I guess the boycott has ended. As I continue to make purchases for my new home, I’ll turn to Target and IKEA for most of these items.

    Michelle, you mentioned chemical-ickiness here — will you please share what types of household cleaners you use?

  3. 3 Elizabeth August 11, 2010 at 4:56 am

    @Leili: I am able to clean most things with a mixture of vinegar + water + a drop or two of Dr. Brommers soap, and baking soda works pretty well for me for everything else.

    I don’t shop at Walmart either. Conveniently enough, there isn’t one anywhere nearby – Portland must feel similarly.

    I do the environmentally-friendly thing almost everywhere, and try really hard to buy local .. the trouble is that for bigger things, local (given my taste) is really expensive. I don’t mind paying the higher price for the smaller things – I just have to budget accordingly and save in other areas (or give up other things). But when I bought my table, for example, I ordered it – because I got something recycled that I loved for a fraction of what I would’ve paid if I bought what I wanted locally. I have a similar trouble with bedding. I know what I want, but I can’t bring myself to pay that much. (Well, I could, if I didn’t have Atlas, because it would last a long time.)

    That being said, I had to make my rare trip to Target the other day and decided to just buy shampoo there instead of buying something eco-friendly on my next trip to the store. My little mind started thinking about how much I could save on things like TP and shampoo and soap and .. if I went back to the regular kinds of things. Sometimes it is hard.

  4. 4 blogasana August 12, 2010 at 4:30 am

    @diane – yes, and you’re so good at it. i wonder if that comes from having been a business woman.

    @leili – i know, i hear ya. yes, as elizabeth said on the cleaner. i don’t add vinegar anymore b/c ron hates the smell of it. castile and water and 20 drops of essential oils (lavender or lemongrass work) do the trick.

    @elizabeth – i think it’s all about our best efforts. right? and knowing 1)that we’re making choice and 2)why we’re making them. yes, some things are a trade off, but we’ve weighed the options and made a choice on purpose. i love that we notice it to begin with. thanks for sharing…


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