Resist With Your Money

by - Thursday, January 25, 2018

women's march resist with your money

This week is the one year anniversary of the Women's March, and many of us returned to marches and community events to renew our energy and remind our leaders that we aren't giving up. This year has been ROUGH. It could not be more pivotal that people find rewed energy to fight the good fight to keep our democracy in tact.

Every day it is something new. Something terrible. Even if you started out ready to give this president a chance, it is hard to buy into that after the year he has had. That is even truer if you care about the environment, because his twin devil secretaries Pruitt and Zinke have had extreme success in deregulating, destroying, and generally being douchebags (like robbing the wildfire funds to charter their private planes, having secret phonebooths put in their office for direct lines to big oil, I mean, I can go on and on).

So it feels like a time to reflect, to look at what tactics are working and where we can push harder.

Now, before you accuse this blog of hating conservatives or coming purely from a place of liberal tree huggerness, check out this post from MONTHS ago about how to Make America Great Again with your money. This blog's first priority is that you start changing your personal consumer choices, no matter who you vote for, and we believe EVERYONE has a stake in taking care of the environment. Though, if we are being honest, I do love hugs (including tree hugs-why not?).

Having written for both, I now notice that in conservative and progressive camps, our ideals are consistently compromised by what we spend our money on. 

If progressives are fighting inequality, why do we invest DAILY in companies and corporations that fight to uphold it? This sounds like a petty critique, but I see so much potential in it. The things we spend our money on from food to gas to paper plates all come with political baggage. But that means we can manipulate our participation to pack political punch.

Changing what we buy and how we spend our money is another opportunity to resist.

To resist climate change (since the EPA won't do it).
 To resist injustice  and mistreatment all over the world.
To resist Big Oil and Big Agriculture.
To resist the continuing distribution of the wealth to the wealthy.
I see it as another opportunity to make our voices heard. To stand up to this nonsense when our politicians are standing for Big Money's interests, not the American people.

Lots of materials have come out about avoiding Trump companies, but boycotting Ivanka's casual workwear is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, I am not suggesting we can right every wrong simply by changing our approach to groceries. And so much of our access to avoiding some of this stuff depends completely on the privilege we have already. But if you have the privilege to buy groceries, you have enough privilege to spend your money well, so many of us can follow through with it. And we KNOW that many of these issues, especially unethical labor practices and climate change effect poorer populations exponentially more, so if you are invested in intersectionality (as we all should be), you can't avoid labor and environmental practices. I will own that there is privilege written all over this post, but there might be some helpful ideas too, and tell me when my own blindspots are getting in my way.

Our purchases really ARE votes for the kind of world we want. Are we as progressives undermining ourselves with our "votes"?

Let the rest of our lives reinforce the ideals we are fighting for politically. Let's see some more opportunities to make our voices heard and to stand up for the world and country we want. I will list lots of ideas and issues, pick what resonates with you. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Let's get started.

Just Buy Less This Year

People in power gauge our attitudes daily by how we spend our money, and politically speaking, we may not be sending the message we intend-

Us, at marches, in conversation, on facebook- "I am extremely concerned..."

Us, holiday shopping: "Everything is great! No complaints. What's on sale?"

This past November and December, spending was OVER projections (even though paychecks are about the same across the board and layoffs are on the upswing yet again). Analysts and companies were pleasantly surprised at just how much of our money we handed over.

Wait... what?

This has all sorts of bonus dramas. Overconsumption is a key component of climate change, because our stuff tends to waste fossil fuels traveling long distances. Most stuff now comes with some sort of packaging as well, which means lots more plastic waste.

Lastly, and this is HUGE, if you are concerned with extreme inequality and injustice in the world, you have to stop investing in it by buying cheap things that were most likely made with unethical labor. People all over the world are in sweatshop and slavery situations so we can keep up our consumption at record rates. Are you ok with someone being mistreated, raped, or even killed in unsafe conditions so you can have that t-shirt? We collectively have to pull back the curtain, even though it hurts.

So the answer for 2018 is simple- just stop shopping so much. Let 2018 be the year we vote no with every dollar we can spare. We all need to do it, myself included. Buying is not an effective way to spend our time, and apparently we got everything in the stores back in November and December.

Stop paying into a system that is built to disenfranchise us.The nice thing about this is that it not only costs nothing, but it can actually save us major money. Consider paring down your clothes shopping with a capsule wardrobe, or start a "need" list and never buy anything when you spot it on the shelf. Buy secondhand (you can even do it online). Even better, borrow and swap. You know where you might tend to overshop, see where you can change up your approach to stuff.

One great way to do this is to join the Buy Nothing Project. This amazing project has groups all over the world. You join the group for your local area, and then you can gift or request any item you want to get rid of or need (everything from shoes to furniture to lotion). It builds community, helps you dramatically cut down shopping, AND it saves you major amounts of money. If you haven't yet, join one. If your area does not have one, think seriously about starting one. This may not seem like it, but it is a positive political action that builds up your neighbors and helps everyone rethink their relationship to their stuff.

Want more information on just how important it is to stop shopping? Check out the Story of Stuff Project.

When You Shop, Shop Small and Local

No year has made it more clear that the Big Guy is out to Stomp you. Look at the tax scam- who benefits? Not the majority of the American people. So why do we continue to give these people are money every day?

Now, I will own this comes from a place of privilege- lots of us are barely surviving, much less getting to make slow and informed choices about each of our purchases. But if you feel your area is suffering, one of the best things you can do is support local smaller businesses. Maybe try buying your first round of groceries from a local grocer and then finish up at the big chain you usually shop at.

In a perfect world, when we pay a store, that money stays in our community, because the staff and the owners also pay local businesses. When we shop somewhere like Walmart, that money leaves the area completely, and it continues to get stockpiled by the Waltons into their ocean of money somewhere. When you shop at Walmart, you send your money off to never be seen or enjoyed again by your community- we can do better, and even small communities usually have some local shops worth supporting.

Over the 1%? Gah, me too. So we have to put as much of our money into the other 99% wherever we can.

Want to stick it to fossil fuels another way? Stop shipping your stuff all over creation. Buying local and Made in America can get burdened with xenophobic, boobs on a mudflap kind of values (though it seems most people with those "values" don't actually buy American), but we need to make it a progressive ideal. Call out companies that don't carry American-made or fair-trade options. Even if the administration won't listen right now, if they lose enough money, businesses will. If you need a place to start, I have an epic number of lists on Made in America and eco-friendly items. Easiest is to start with your basics you buy all the time, like paper towels, toilet paper, etc. There are eco-friendly and American-made options out there, it's just a matter of getting in the habit of looking.

Stop Investing in Pipelines

Last year, so many amazing people went to fight the DAPL, pushing against the fossil fuel pipes that hurt communities and continue our dangerous relationship with CO2 burning fossil fuels. Demonstrating against these pipelines, fracking, and more is incredibly important, but even if you aren't out on the front lines, you can still make a huge difference. Being disgusted with Big Oil and their crappy tactics isn't enough.

Our attitude about what is going on reveals our own hypocrisy. It would be like going to see Walter White for some meth and chiding him for misbehaving at the same time. You don't really have the right to ask "Why are you being so awful?" He is being terrible because you are paying for it, You have made his terribleness extremely lucrative. We all have.

The same is true for our relationship with Big Oil. They are buying our politicians and destroying our environment because we are paying them to. So if we want change to happen, we have to change ourselves.

Easier said than done. But not impossible. Here are three key steps to take-

1. The straightforward part of this is to look where you bank. Wells Fargo and other ubiquitous American banks are key investors in these projects. You can read all about it at Do a little research on your banks and their involvement in big oil. If your bank is involved, divest. Maybe try a credit union instead. And be sure to tell them why you are doing it. Seriously, banks need to know you do not approve and that you have lost their business.

2. If you can drive less, you should. If you can get solar panels, you should. If you can take public transit, you should. We can all do these things at low levels, but to go all out it takes money, location, and a certain amount of privilege. Not everyone has public transit to use or a network to carpool with. But if you have those things, then use them. Let 2018 be the year you get really good at taking the bus or riding your bike. Set a goal of how many times you are willing to fill up your car, and then keep to it.

If your city or town doesn't have good options for this, start thinking solutions. This could be a huge way for you to make a difference this year.

3. We all need to stop buying other products that use petroleum, from Dove dish soap to plastic bottles. More on this...

Push Away All the Plastic

What do plastics have to do with our current political shitshow? It turns out, quite a lot.

 If you think this isn't political, check one simple, presidential move. He reinstated disposable plastic water bottles in National Parks. Now, this seems like a pretty dinky move compared to Secretary Zinke's reign of terror over the parks, a full out assault where he shrinks monuments and uses funds to fight wildfires to fund his private flights (what is wrong with these people). But this move to help plastic bottles shows exactly where the administration's loyalties are- to big plastic.

Big plastic is an aggressive and prominent lobby in the US, and the administration is on its side. It's why even though we know plastics are poisoning our land and filling our landfills, double the plastics are slotted to be made in 2018.

And that will hurt us all. Plastic is poison. Studies continue to show its connection to hormonal changes in children, to certain cancers, and to severe damage to our digestive and endocrine systems. Americans create unbelievable amounts of plastic waste every single day, polluting our water, filling our landfills, and becoming part of the giant trash island.

No matter what your situation in life is, you can phase some plastic out of your life. It's one of the easiest steps we can take. Some liberal out there can get some f you solar panels on her roof, but most of us can't afford it. Some of us can walk or take the bus, but that's not always possible.

Plastic feels equally unavoidable, but it isn't.

1. Cut the Big Four (straws, water bottles, coffee cups, and plastic shopping bags) out of your life. It costs no money to say "No straw please" when you go out to eat.

2. Prioritize Low Packaging, Low Waste Options. Shop around the outside edge of the grocery store- that's where the most package-free food lives there. Consider thinning out your meat consumption, or bringing a container the meat counter can put your food in. Shop secondhand, because all the clothes in stores have traveled in individual plastic bags. Buy reusable basics like cloth napkins and

3. Put Pressure on Businesses. At this moment in history, we know that putting pressure on businesses is as effective, if not more, than political action. For example, asking your community's grocery stores to stop carrying plastic bags vs. doing a plastic bag ban. We know that businesses are starting to take these things seriously, some more than others. Even brands as big as McDonald's are switching to

Want more information and inspiration? Join a group like the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Fight Climate Change on Your Plate

Climate change is the biggest problem a government has ever fought to deny. We know it isn't a myth, as we have seen one disaster after another this year. Even if the environment isn't your regular political interest, you are probably seeing how it is effecting every other issue, and we all have to get involved. Because nothing else matters if our planet doesn't survive. When we first left the Paris Agreement, I wrote about many ways we can continue to fight climate change, but this is one of the most important.

We know one of the most effective ways to do that (besides buying a Tesla and solar panels (pretty out of reach for most of us) is to change our diets. Americans' eating habits, from wasting food to using too many pesticides is having a dramatic effect. So we can make a big positive difference just by changing our own eating habits. Here are some of the easiest steps-

Eat Less Meat. You don't have to give up meat completely, but even giving up one day of meat a week can save thousands of pounds of CO2 from going into the atmosphere every year. Meat production costs an insane amount of water and resources, and beef production comes at a particularly huge environmental cost. It's so dramatic that a vegan diet keeps almost as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as giving up your car.

If we as progressives wanted to turn the tides until this presidency is over, none of us should eat a bite of beef until that man is out of office. Until someone is taking active steps to offset CO2.

Eat Local. I just learned that the AVERAGE distance traveled by our food, from farm to the table, is 1,300 miles! What!?!? This is partially because our food is so processed, so our food goes through 6 different hands on average before it reaches the store. That is an extreme waste of fuel and resources. If you haven't yet, look up a seasonal calendar for where you live. Plan around it and try to buy the food that is most local to you. Fall in love with local brands. The shorter our stuff and our food travels, the less fossil fuels we are using, the better.

Eat Organic. Ack, ok, to be totally honest, I have mixed feelings about this one, because this doesn't tend to be cost-effective and organic produce travels in more plastic. That being said, we all need to be concerned with bee populations and the effects of pesticides on bees (do you know 1 in 3 bites on your plate only exists because of bees?). If bees go, we all go. So when you can, buy organic. Or, put more pressure on grocers and growers to stop using such harmful pesticides because (surprise!) the EPA is deregulating this area and encouraging pesticides. If you can afford to eat organic, do so. If not, consider trying out CSA boxes or nearby farmer's markets which sometimes have more affordable options.

Stop Wasting Food. Americans waste an astounding !()@*!()@ pounds of food a year. This wastefulness is just another form of overconsumption. Start meal planning or eating leftovers first to cut out more waste from your life and diet. So simple, but it actual does shift your footprint and fights climate change.

Want more information on food and climate change? Check out this information from Sustain.

women's march resist with your money

Alright, I know this is big. What I am asking for is a paradigm change, but where we can change, we should. Because on the days where we aren't getting through politically, we can still be constantly shifting the tides of public opinion, market norms, and business standards by pushing in these directions. What else should I add to the list?

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