Every Dollar Is a Vote

“Every dollar is a vote.” What? I know we just went through a long period of that. This is a different kind of voting – much more fun and a great way to promote sustainability.

Were you around on November 24? It was Small Business Saturday, a day to celebrate mom-‘n’-pops –a quintessential part of the local culture. Many of them are longtime community members. And all are among the most hardworking people in the community. They are so hands-on and have a story about everything they offer. Travelers and journalists (and locals) like to tell a good tale about them, which is just another reminder of our privilege of living here. Unfortunately, mom-‘n’-pops have been squeezed so hard, they often have a short life span. Let’s change that to preserve our community character. Every day can be a “buy local” day. Walk, bike or drive to a mom-‘n’-pop around the corner, say hi like the way you greet a good neighbor, and start creating your own tale here and now. What you are doing is really promoting community, sustainability and prosperity – all by one action.

Another good “buy” for sustainability is “buy used.” I was once told by a local store owner and artist, “Trash is created by lack of imagination.” Unfortunately, that store is no longer around to showcase imagination. But there are many other examples of creative re-use. Check out Patagonia Worn Wear: Torn gear get a second life – happy and hip. Time magazine recently featured a few other brands. Everlane: “The garment is sourced from Japanese denim and produced in a sustainable Vietnamese factory that recycles its water and turns waste into bricks to build local homes.” Allbirds: “The shoe industry has a big carbon footprint, thanks in part to the fact that many shoe parts – including plastic soles, logos and shoelace tips – are made from petroleum. . . SweetFoam, a new material made from parts of sugarcane that would otherwise be discarded.” Do you know every process in a product’s life cycle, from raw material to trash, has an impact on ocean health? Ocean is the biggest carbon sink. We witness a variety of problems with the ocean now. For it to heal, we have to reduce, reuse and repurpose stuff.

I know these shopping ideas are more about good causes than good bargains. Some say discounts are needed to make it more appealing. But there is always someone cheaper, sometimes unfair or even unethical. Where shall we stop on the chasing for bargains? I tend to believe the folks living here have some financial freedom to support what they believe in. Do you value local economic vitality? Do you appreciate creativity? Should they be cultivated and rewarded? Buy local, buy used.

Let’s spend our money as a celebration, with great pride in our goodwill and our continuing efforts to be more sustainable. While you are doing this, tell the local governments and schools to vote with their dollars for the causes, too.

Hoiyin Ip is often recognized on the street as the plastic lady for her cleanup work. But she likes to think of herself as a guardian of the ocean. She is often reminded of a quote by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.” 

About The Author Dana Point Times

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