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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

How to Vote With Your Wallet

By Margaret Gilmour

Tags: sustainable companies, social responsibility, B Corporations, Margaret Gilmour,

Sometimes your only option is to buy on the fly. No time to consider what brand is better, or even how your purchase gives a stamp of approval to the company behind the product.

But, when you think about it, if you put as much effort into considering the purchases you make as you do with the charitable donations you give, you could be changing lives or supporting causes you believe in each time you take out your wallet.

pulling cash out of wallet
Photo By maska82/Fotolia

In fact, where you spend your money is about the biggest statement you can make, whether you are buying food, products or buying into ideas. Each swipe of your card is your thumbs up on policies, organizations and people that matter to you. Actually, it’s the easiest way to get heard.

Purchase with a purpose isn’t a new concept, yet as more and more brands include supporting social good as part of their business model, your chances for showing support are gaining ground.

According to goodpurpose® 2012 study: “Not only are consumers making purchase decisions with Purpose top of mind, they are also buying and advocating for purposeful brands. Seventy-two percent of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t; a 39 percent increase since 2008.”

There are many brands worth investing in not just because of their great quality but also because of the company's dedication to the environment, passion for giving back to the community and commitment to supporting organizations that make our world a better place. 

The obvious choices are shoes that help people in need, clothing dedicated to bettering the environment, food that cares for its workers farming the fields. When you buy one of these products, you are helping a cause and participating in its success. And that feels really good.

But what about companies that aren’t easily recognized as doing good, the smaller brands making a huge impact? Falling Whistles, for example, or Hand in Hand soap. For consumers faced with walls of products and a sea of options, all of this spirited social entrepreneurialism has its benefits.

A quick search on companies giving back will expand your buying power, but if time evades you, apps like Rank a Brand make supporting sustainable companies fast and easy. And here’s a no-brainer: stay close to home and pick up food from your local farm stand or select garments from a locally owned shop to make the statement "I support my community." Just as good, buy handmade.

Then there’s B Corporations (the B stands for Benefit), which have magnified a new interpretation of what it means to be successful in business. B Corps, a standard created six years ago by two entrepreneurs, are certified for meeting strict environmental principles and social responsibility, being good to your employees and generous within your community.

Applying for B Corp status helps companies loom above altruistic-boasting organizations that don’t follow through on advertised commitments. Last I checked there were more than 700 B Corps, some that stand out as Rock Stars of the New Economy.

B Corp Certification, however, can be a pricey commitment for small businesses, and there are companies with philanthropic initiatives already in place that don’t see the certification necessary. Either way, when you take the time to consider where you put your money, you too can B the Change.

Margaret GilmourMargaret Gilmour is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors and knows everything is better if it’s just-picked and all-natural. You can find her at (where she plans to spend more time).