How can a product-loving woman become a conscious consumer, all without compromising her girl power?
That wasn’t even an issue for me early on. I didn’t get in touch with my girly side until I was in 7th grade. Before that, there was very little differentiation between me and the boys. We all ran, jumped around, slid in the mud, got dirty with the same frequency and were scraped up on our elbows and toes.
My first ‘feminine’ act was motivated by my classmates—or was it spurred on by a fashion magazine? It really doesn’t matter. Both had the same pervasive influence over me as an adolescent. The act involved buying a tube of lip gloss to wear to a school dance. Having lips that resembled desert roses (or some such color) made me feel powerful. And why? Because the popular girls and/or Seventeen magazine told me that it would.
Don’t get me wrong—buying products is necessary, and it doesn’t have to be a necessary evil either. From cleaning supplies to clothing to cosmetics (I’m a sucker for lip gloss), there are certain things we can’t to deny ourselves. But as my very wise mother told me when she saw me ‘getting into it’ just a little too much with the makeup, the accessories, the clothing: Less is more. And this mantra certainly applies to how my choices affect the environment.
Spending money on yourself feels good; it’s an adrenaline rush of sorts. But my spending was a false source of power, a brief sugar high, because I realized how little I knew about how my decisions were affecting the earth.
The site Big Green Purse has inspired me to take my purchasing power back into my own hands. According to the Big Green Purse, women wield about 85% of the spending power in the marketplace as consumers. We can, and should, use this to our advantage. The site also stresses the ‘less is more’ concept. Consumers should purchase only what they need, making informed decisions on what will minimize the negative impact on the environment.
Let’s face it: The power of advertising is a strong one, and the influence of fashion magazines (and our peers) proved hard for me to ignore as a teenager. But as eco-issues integrate themselves more and more into my life, I’ve matured and have started buying more consciously. Yes, I have an immediate use for light bulbs, detergent, soap, and the like (all which can be purchased from eco-friendly sources). But I don’t really need that slickly packaged lip gloss, or another shiny handbag glinting at me devilishly from the store window.
Check out the Big Green Purse to read their list of Shopping Principles that help protect the planet. And spend your money accordingly—if you need to, that is.
Another favorite site of mine is Saffron Rouge, a great resource for organic skin care and beauty products. Its founder, Kristin Binder, is an organic beauty expert who incorporates sustainability into her daily routine.
Buying eco-friendly holds a very real power, not like the dizzy, ephemeral rush we feel when we spend on a product we know we don’t actually need. Women especially are very influenced by what others are doing, wearing…if we see something we like on someone else, we want it, too. That’s why women can have such an impact as consumers based on the choices we make.
Who knew that we held so much power in our hands?
I’m all about changing the future. But the only way we’re going to do that is by changing our patterns in the present—and doing my part to make this happen makes me feel more powerful than I’ve felt in a while.