Toward better buying choices

In today's landscape of plenty, we've got 15 kinds of lemonade and 155 brands of toothpaste to choose from - all with the same basic ingredients, all priced within a few cents of each other. In such a sitz im leben, every act of consumption is an expression of value.

Now that brands have picked up on the fact that shoppers are using their dollars in favor of values (not just value), they are facing some of the questions that have been asked by socially conscious investors for years. And there's a lot that we can learn from this group's stumbles and successes. Curiously, when faced with difficult choices (e.g. Nike is a good investment financially, and were recycling their shoes and leading waste reduction initiatives, but were also employing 10 year olds for 20 cents a day), a significant number of socially attuned investors looked to the consumers to decide what matters.

Here is a very interesting blog post on "issue based filters for investing," by a "greenie-capitalist" company that is struggling with how to change the world and be profitable. I'm not 100% on the same page with its writer, but there's some rich content here. And even more richly rewarding, it's great to read the transparent struggles of other companies that see sustainability as a starting point, rather than a ceiling.

Socially responsible investors, young companies that are pursuing profitability that's economic, environmental and social, and consumers who are increasingly aware of the need to make responsible choices with their buying power... we've got a lot that we can learn from each other.

As the writer say, there's no "silver bullet that solves all of our problems." And maybe this realization is the first step in a good direction. Maybe the days of one-stop shopping - for big idea solutions or for grocery runs - SHOULD be over. Because as it turns out, in many choices one size does not fit all.

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