With the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to post this snippet from The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. This book is amazing a great read, and really makes you think about voting with your dollar. (Please join my book club for a chance for me to send it to you- go to facebook and search Personal Growth Book Club) This particular piece is about the author, Lynne Twist shopping for her granddaughter. Please take a look and consider making some changes when shopping for gifts this holiday season. Every purchase makes a difference.
“When my first grandchild, Ayah, was born in 1999, I was ecstatic to have a grandchild. I couldn’t wait to shop for her. Every baby store, every advertisement, captured my imagination and took me into the world of beautiful pink treasures for a baby girl. When she was three months old, my daughter-in-law Halima and I decided to go shopping for baby clothes. All the gift baby clothes she had received when Ayah was born were starting to get too small, and it was time to buy some new things. because of our busy weekday schedules, we planned our shopping trip for a weekend when we could devote a day to it. We planned to meet at a big shopping center in Marin County, about a half an hour from my home. Halima was coming from Oakland with the baby, and my daughter Summer was coming in from her place in Sausalito. Three women and a baby- this was going to be one power-shopping trip!.
Shortly before I left the house, the phone rang and it was my son Zachary, Ayah’s father. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he wanted to ell me something serious. “Mom,” he said, “I know you’re going shopping today with Halima and I want to tell you how important it is for us that we purchase things for our daughter that are produced and made in ways we feel good about.”
He then went on to list the stores they didn’t want us to buy from. One trendy national chain store had been known to use child labor in Indonesia. Another respected department store had no policy against using toxic dyes, and Zachary and Halima didn’t want their money going to support that company.
Zachary continued, kindly but firmly, asking me not to buy Ayah more than she needed- they didn’t want to begin a pattern of excess. And he asked me to buy things only from those stores or brands that represent natural, sustainable manufacturing and fair labor practices. He and Halima wanted the things they purchased for their daughter- to be consistent with their values, he said. And he names a few stores where we would most likely find those brands.
I remember being totally shocked by this conversation. His words didn’t match the picture of the shopping spree that had filled my mind. It hadn’t occurred to me to think in those ways about buying clothes for my new granddaughter. My upbringing, my training, my way of seeing and being with this new baby were filled with the voices of my culture and my family history, and I hadn’t noticed that I was completely sucked in. I had bought into the craze of the marketing that targets grandmothers. They had me figured right. I’d fallen for it totally. Here I am, a social activist, someone working to stop child labor in developing countries and clean up the environment, yet completely blind to the fact that I was ready to buy anything and everything for my adorable granddaughter, with no consciousness about where it came from, who made it, how it was made and any consequences that came from that.
I also saw that I would have purchased much more than she needed. What was parading across my mind was an endless supply of pink dresses, booties, and bonnets, and that pointless parade was brought to a halt by the conversation with my son. I knew he was right. Halima, too, had communicated by the same standards to me in conversations past. And yet, how easy it was to get caught up in the impulse to buy, and leave my conscientious consumer habits for another day. All my training in the field, all my witnessing of conditions of cruelty and sweatshops in Asia, all my commitment, had been obliterated in the great glee of this marathon shopping event for my granddaughter. It had taken my son’s wake up call to see that I had never taken those lessons and applied them to real life. Not my own life, anyway;not just now.
Red faced, but grateful, I promised to honor his request. I met my daughter and daughter-in- law at the shopping center and we shopping with a kind of consciousness I had never known before. We looked at labels. We asked questions. We learned about fabrics and origins of materials. We chose stores where the people were knowledgeable about the craftspeople behind their products, and we bought exactly the right amount of clothing for the next few months of little Ayah’s life.
By the time we were done, I no longer felt daunted by what had seemed to be limitations imposed on my shopping spirit. I was excited! The joy of buying my granddaughter lovely things was made even greater by the satisfaction of having invested my money in the services of companies and craftspeople who had knitted the sweaters or quilted the blanket. I felt good about paying the store clerks for their thoughtful and attentive services. We concluded our shopping trip with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, not overladen with more than Ayah could use, but with an appropriate around of clothing and baby equipment for the next few months of her young life. It was satisfying to direct the flow of my money and invest it with my own values, allocating it to people and places I felt good about.”
Lynne Twist has been working for 40 years to alleviate poverty when she wrote this and even she got caught up in a shopping frenzy and forgot to shop ethically. Sometimes we need to take a step back, and know that it takes time and practice. Practice throughout this holiday season and make it a season of good.
If you are looking for some holiday deals but still want to shop ethically we will be at the Parkway Plaza mall on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday inside California Gemstones