I'm not one to think that all, or even some, of society's problems can be fixed by shopping. I am always wary of anything that asks people to buy more useless stuff to fix a problem. You know what I mean. Like when you do into a store in the mall and they are doing a promo for a shirt that is partially for charity. You don't need it, you tell yourself, but it is for a good cause...
"I'll take a medium."
We all need to consume less--ALL OF US. At the same time, living in the 21st Century means that from time to time we all have to buy stuff--clothes, chemicals, cars, condos (and any other alliterated good you can think of). It is unavoidable. In those cases, I have learned that it is best to be intentional about your purchase. First, always try to buy used. No need using up a bunch of new resources when there are perfectly good items all over the place. Second, always try to buy local. This reduces the amount that the item will need to travel, which cuts down on emissions and resources, while at the same time cutting out corporate middlemen and putting more money in the pockets of local artists, businesspersons and entrepreneurs. These two rules will help you live a more sustainable, more responsible life from a cultural, social, spiritual, and environmental standpoint.
The rub comes when, like me, you live out in the suburbs where there isn't a local farmer's market and there aren't many stores that sell used or locally-produced goods. It can be hard to make a strong purchasing decision in that scenario.
Fortunately, we live in a hyper-connected world with that handy-dandy highway we know and love: the internet. I am noticing sites popping up all over the place that offer a virtual marketplace for buying and selling handmade, environmentally-friendly, and vintage goods. My favorite site like this is called Etsy. On Etsy.com, you can buy and sell paintings, photography, candles, clothing, jewelry--basically, anything--with no middleman. In the search engine, you can check whether or not you Best of all, most vendors have very affordable prices!
Another site that Ebay has just released is World of Good. On this site, you can even select from their four product categories: People Positive, Eco Positive, Animal Friendly, or Supports a Cause. There are some really amazing items on this site, but the down side is that they tend to be pretty pricey.
Do you have any sites like this that you've discovered?