An Approachable Guide to Being a Better Consumer

An Approachable Guide to Being a Better Consumer

Many of us have been conditioned over the years to buy the best, or the cheapest, or the thing that's never let me down before. Today, I'd like to talk about buying the "goodest" instead.

2020 was a rough year, and it demonstrated the outright greed and corruption in every single touchpoint of our lives. It exposed painful reminders of the ongoing struggles for racial end economic justice and equality. It exposed the irresponsible and inhumane ways many companies treat their employees. It exposed how lies and disinformation are now just another tactic in the political toolbox, free to be used without consequence.

As consumers, we have two ways to influence this behavior: when we all showed up and voted in November, and when we spend our hard-earned money. As a consumer, I don't really have the time and energy to research every product I buy to see how corrupt, irresponsible, or flat out damaging to the world it and the company that made it are. So, what I want to talk about is a way to quickly evaluate that a company meets a reasonable baseline for you.

For me, I'm looking for an all-around good company. That means my gold-standard criteria is a B-Corporation certification. For you, it might be USDA organic food or Leaping Bunny certified animal cruelty free, Certified Vegan, Fair Trade Certified, bluesign Certified materials, or others. What we're looking for is an external layer of accountability that aligns with our own beliefs.

About B Corps | Certified B Corporation

I choose Certified B Corporation as my gold star, because it encompasses the entire way the business operates. This is a flawed approach, because the process to become a Certified B Corporation is long and potentially intrusive - but it makes my side of the equation easy. Every Certified  B Corp has an annual Impact report that's available on the B Lab website which makes it easy to verify and discover B Corps. For example, here is well-known B-Corp Patagonia's.

Patagonia Works | Certified B Corporation
Core Values Patagonia, Inc.’s values reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted. The approach they take toward product design demonstrates a bias for simplicity and utility. Build the best product Their criteria for the best product …

Great, so what can I as a consumer do with this information? Well, look around your house. There's some consumable you're ready to replace or an old kitchen item you're ready to upgrade. You're likely thinking about buying a new backpack or other gear. Take a look at the B-Corp directory before you hit up Amazon. Can't think of anything? Maybe the list of interesting responsible companies below might inspire you.

Do you have a favorite responsible company? Share it with me!