At the beginning of this year, I didn’t know what sustainability meant. “Vegan leather, what is that? I thought vegan was a diet, not a material”. “What does organic even mean? Does that even actually mean anything?”
At the beginning of this year, I was also politically frustrated, a feeling that many people in the United States shared. I felt helpless as to the changes that were happening around me, and the threats of things to come – the majority of this fear was not for myself personally, but for many Americans less fortunate than myself.
I am gainfully employed, I volunteer my time, I am kind to everyone and generally mindful of things happening in the world. I didn’t know what more to do. I considered running for office of some sort, I considered sitting on a school board. I attended rallies, I called my politicians, I signed petitions and I donated my money. I still felt like I was not in control, not doing enough, like none of it mattered much.
I am an accountant, so I attended business school. I know that consumer power is one of the largest driving forces of society. What consumers demand, suppliers will provide. If we, en masse, show that we will only buy sustainably-sourced clothing, companies are likely shift their practices to retain our business. If we stop buying from companies that regularly and consciously harm the environment with their manufacturing processes, they are forced to either change practices or lose business. If we raise our children to care, we have effectively altered the world.
Consumer power cannot be underestimated. I believe that it is the single biggest sway, second only, perhaps, to voting, that the American people hold.
I am on a personal journey to be better. I don’t know it all, I’ve only just begun. I am going to educate myself about people, practices and products. I am going to improve my vocabulary. I can’t change everything at once, so I will go step-by-step. I am going to continue voting in every election, and I am going to spread what knowledge I gain with my friends, family and peers. I will help to change the world, one mindful purchase at a time.
I am inviting you to join me on my journey to sustainability.