Are you shopping for a better world?

I recently had the pleasure of joining Jen & Barb on their great web series: Mom Life. We talked a little about how a shopper can make a difference in building a better world using some on the new online and mobile tools available to them. This is especially important to Moms who already have so many demands on their time. Here’s a few tips that I hope are helpful

BM:  Moms are busy. We still have to make purchases. How can we do that and be socially aware?

SM:  In a struggling economy, it’s hard enough for any of us to make a contribution.  So what do we do?

BM:  Right. Because you do want to give to everybody. Every time you turn around it’s like, ‘Give $50 to this, give $100 to that.” You want to make a difference, but…

SM:  As a father with daughters, what encourages me is that technology is making it easier and easier to contribute. For example you can have a smart phone application like Good Guide. All you have to do is point your smart phone at the bar code of a product and it will give you a social impact rating. And it’s free, so imagine, you can transform your shopping cart into this contribution you’re making where you consider every item that you’re putting in your shopping cart.

JP:  But then, soon enough, you’ll probably know. You won’t have to do it every time because you’ll start getting an idea.

SM:  It’s like those online grocery stores. You’ve built the list once and you know exactly what you need. Secondly, when you have a big ticket item like a car or a washing machine, use something like BrandKarma, who tells you want companies are doing in terms of social responsibility. Also, just look at what causes or non-profits a company is supporting so that you can feel good about supporting that company.

BM:  I just did that with a new Dodge minivan. This was a brand that actually had causes that I was interested in, and I love the car.

SM:  Then suddenly you look at your life, you look at your fridge, you look at your garage and you see the car and you feel okay about all of that.

BM:  Once you do have children, you become no longer selfish because your purpose is to make sure that your kids are safe, that they experience a world that is the best it can be for them.

JP:  You think more outside yourself.

SM:  But the great tragedy is that it seems we need to get to our 40s before we wake up to the needs of others besides ourselves.

JP:  What’s interesting though, Simon, is that I think this is changing. I think that our children are socially aware, they are environmentally aware in a way that we were not brought up. It’s just going to be part of who they are.

SM:  I think that is happening because they’re so much more aware through the internet.  Imagine what we knew when we were in our early teens and there wasn’t the ability to share that information like there is with social media. When you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you can use social media to celebrate those brands that are doing good and punish those that are not. This is not being any more self-interested than before, it’s about leveraging these tools to make your choices a little more responsible, and then in the same way asking companies to do the same.

BM:  So there’s no reason not to participate in this. It’s just going to be better for everybody in the long run and right now.

SM:  And it’s fulfilling. When you look back, the thing you take greatest pleasure  from in life is what you’ve contributed. When you know that the money you’re spending on what you need everyday is actually also making a small contribution, you’ll feel better about yourself.

What other websites or apps have you come across that can make you a more mindful shopper?