Consider this ...

Every day you use powerful tools that can change society ... they're in your wallet

by Rhonda Hill
he decision-making process that affects lives is important and empowering. From there it grows and grows, and brings into reality visions of better ways of working and living. Working collectively, we are empowered to create just about anything we can dream. When we diminish ourselves by believing we don't matter, defeat takes place. We give our power away. Just one person can really make a difference, either toward or away from empowerment. Persistence is the key to anything. Persistence is what will create the changes that are so desperately needed in society. It is what sees us through personal and collective goals.
It was this type of persistence that brought me into the realm of business and politics. At one point, I decided that I was tired of accepting things around me that felt wrong in my heart. As a result, I started a business called Earth Connections (located in the Grossmont Center Mall) that educates people and makes positive alternatives available.
I also became involved in the Green Party, which is founded on ten key values: ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy, post-patriarchal values, community-based economics, decentralization, respect for diversity, global responsibility, future focus, social justice, and personal responsibility. I believe that the simple act of registering to vote as a Green Party member is a powerful statement. Change starts with a small group of dedicated people. To this day, I have no regrets. Living true to my heart is more important to me than anything else.
Being politically active is one of the most important things we can do. However, spending our money wisely is even more important. Every purchase we make supports someone and something. We give power to whoever we give our money to, be it a grocery store, credit card company, car dealership, department store, doctor or the IRS. If there is something out there we don't like, or some corporation that is harming people or the environment, the most effective way to stop them is to not give them our money!
This issue is not just about buying a new pair of jeans or a cellular phone. It's about discouraging toxic waste, not giving unethical corporations power, and not taking a quality future away from our children.
Each purchase we make constitutes a choice. We all have many such choices. Taken together, they give us tremendous power to affect the future. Knowledge and right choices are the keys to a healthy sustainable future.
We should put our money in places where it will be used to bring about positive changes. Buying organic food and clothing supports positive change in a huge way. It creates a cleaner environment locally and globally. It reduces tax dollars sent to clean up pollution. It encourages the creation of more non-toxic industries. It gives you an all-around healthier, better quality product. Buying recycled products, renewable products and non-chemically based health products will also help bring about positive change.
Or, we can purchase Gillette products that support severe, unnecessary cruelty to animals, pollution to the earth, higher taxes and a lower standard of living. There are plenty of corporations wreaking havoc on our economy and the environment (which are inextricably connected).
If you are interested in taking action locally, San Diego is a great place to do it. We are extremely fortunate to have great resources here. To begin with, we have publications like The San Diego Earth Times, Visions Magazine, and The Rural Advocate that have an environmental focus and get important information out to the public.
We have stores like People's Food Co-op, Casady's, Jimbo's Naturally and Greentree Grocers where you can purchase organic food. Even better, we have community supported agriculture where you can support organic farmers, and have seasonal fruits and vegetables delivered to your home (756-3088). We also have a fine assortment of vegetarian restaurants, including Kung Food, Second Nature, Jyoti-Bihanga, Monsoon, The Vegetarian, and Mother's Kitchen. If you're looking for great, ready-to-eat, organic meals delivered to your home, you can call The Natural Gourmet (271-5329). For those hard-to-find, high quality organic bulk foods and grains, we have Boney's and Gold Mine Natural Foods, a national catalog company based here in San Diego (296-8536).
There are two stores in the San Diego area where you can find high quality all natural pet care, clothing, cleaners, shoes, body care and household items: Earth Connections in the Grossmont Center Mall (589-7563), and EnvironGentle in Encinitas (753-7420). Probably the most important products that these stores carry are the clothing and shoes. Both items traditionally come from highly toxic, problematic industries.
It's a blessing that there are manufacturers out there making organic clothing. We have a pretty good idea of how toxic synthetic materials are, but cotton itself may be an even larger problem. Cotton uses 10 percent of the world's pesticides, but only accounts for less than one tenth of one percent of the world's crops. This amounts to around 490 million gallons of pesticides annually. In addition, cotton is bleached, treated with formaldehyde, and dyed with heavy metals, all of which are toxic to both people and the environment. The clothing at Earth Connections and EnvironGentle is organically grown and is not treated with bleach or formaldehyde. The dyes used are either low impact, vegetable derived, or the cotton is grown in colors. The main companies producing organic cotton clothing are Maggie's Organic, Eco-sport, and 0-Wear. Look for these brand names and request them at clothing stores.
San Diego has a greater wealth of resources than can be listed here. Just to mention a few: for socially and environmentally responsible investments we have: The Acacia Group (622-1133) and First Affirmative Financial Network, Inc. (698-4330). Di Bona Interiors is an environmental interior design company (431-1216) and AFM is a non-toxic paint, stain and sealant company (239-0321). There is an environmental library focused mainly on recycling issues at I Love A Clean San Diego (467-0103). The Green Store in Ocean Beach also has a wonderful environmental library (225-1083). And, of course, there is a wealth of environmental organizations like The Sierra Club (299-1744), The Audubon Society (275-0557), Surfrider (792-9940), and San Diego Earth Day (272-7370).
I ask that you at least consider every purchase that you make and how it affects the world. It is easy to do something harmful if we don't think about the consequences and don't directly experience (at least immediately) the harm. Corporations, through the media and government, have spent billions of dollars trying to keep information away from us so that we can be "good consumers." It's time to acknowledge how powerful we really are. It may be only a few of us, at first, but information travels quickly these days, especially if we help it along. If we are persistent, it will only be a matter of time until our goals and vision are achieved. And sometimes it is simply the path to our goals and vision that brings us the most happiness.

Rhonda Hill may be reached at Earth Connections at (619) 589-7563.