Voting with My Dollar into 2019

January 3rd, 2019

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Week 1: The 2019 Voting with My Dollar Project

Since November 2016, it’s been easy to feel hopeless, particularly for those of us raising small children in a country whose leader despises the very notion of humanity (never mind humility). While I’ve been voting more, and more often, especially on a local level, it has not felt like enough. Perhaps a better word than hopeless is helpless. My vote didn’t matter in the 2016 election. So what can I do to change the world for my kids?

The truth is, there is a far more powerful way for the average citizen to influence their world than the occasional democratic opportunity, and it’s called voting with your dollar.

But voting with your dollar is much, much, much easier said than done.

While I buy local whenever I can, it’s those last three words that are key to the reality of my spending. Since my daughters were born nearly four years ago, I’ve been a slave to Amazon Prime. We live in the middle of nowhere, and I work at home. Running out to buy this or that is not always practical or even possible. Here is a highly embarrassing, true-to-life inventory of the last 10 things I bought on Prime:

  1. Pillow protectors

  2. Bathtub crayons

  3. Rainbow star stickers

  4. A geode kit (gift)

  5. Scotch tape

  6. Hemp twine

  7. A copy of When Things Fall Apart for a friend whose shit is definitely falling apart

  8. A wooden dollhouse

  9. Rose gold cupcake liners

  10. A box of multicolored sequins

And if I’m being really honest, those were just a fraction of my Prime purchases in December.

The thing is, when you buy from Prime, you’re not just supporting Amazon and their questionable political affiliations and nefarious labor practices. You’re also supporting all the companies whose products you’re buying on Amazon. So in this case: AllerEase, Crayola, Trend Enterprises, National Geographic, 3M, Blisstime, Shambhala Press, Pidoko Kids, Gifbera, and Sorrento Crafts.

On this list, there are only two companies I feel relatively confident about supporting: National Geographic and Shambhala (literally owned by a friend of a friend). The rest run the gamut from dubious to obscure.

I remember when I started this slow decline into indentured Prime membership. It was whilst pregnant and then momming twin infants, living in suburban Utah, surrounded by stores but rarely able to leave my house to go to them. At the time, Amazon Prime was my lifeline, but I remember promising myself, “When they are four, this excuse will be over.”

I don’t know why I chose four as the cutoff date. Nevertheless, here we are, with their fourth birthday fast approaching (one week from today, in fact).

This year, I am going to focus on thinking about exactly where my dollar is going by:

  1. Downsizing my Amazon Prime addiction

  2. Continuing to do most of my grocery shopping at the local co-op, farmers market, and farm stands — and for the purchases we make at “the depressing grocery store,” I will do the research into which of our town’s two stores is a better place to sink my money

  3. Using the #grabyourwallet movement (and the spreadsheet the org keeps updated) to keep track of major companies actively supporting Trump and/or the NRA — and avoiding them at all costs. In particular for the latter, I will not have my money contributing to gun violence. Nope. No.

  4. Doing the research, a little bit at a time, on brands I use to find out where their and their leaderships’ political and social affiliations lie

  5. Blogging about it here and there to keep myself accountable

I am not saying I’m never using Amazon Prime again. Please, I have a tube of DoTerra toothpaste in my cart as we speak. But I pledge to do incrementally better.

Here’s to reinvesting my hard-earned dollars in places where it matters.

What I’m eating…

This is my current chicken soup recipe fixation and a fascinating article in National Geographic about why chicken soup really is the elixir of life.

What I’m reading:

I have a novel sitting on my bedside table (last year’s Booker Prize winner, Milkman), but I’m not cracking it until I get through my backed-up pile of magazine subs.

What I’m watching…

The HBO show Room 104, which can be hit or miss, but when it’s on, it’s really on.

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