Change the World by How You Shop
Ethical Consumption, Ethical Purchasing, Moral Purchasing, Ethical Sourcing, Ethical Shopping or Green Consumerism - All of these mean essentially the same thing ... an awareness of consciousness, social inequities and an inner probing of how we behave and act in the world around us. Each of us, in our own way, contribute to the greater whole, spreading kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion to help alleviate the inequities we see along the way. One of my favorite ways of acting upon my own deep inner core values is in the simple form of Pay It Forward. And today, I am going to do just that.
I started my fair trade store in late November 2015. (Thank you Germinate.com for actualizing my dreams, and developing my website!) And without the conscious consumer I simply would cease to exist, so foremost I wish to thank my customers from the bottom of my heart! And then sometimes along the way, we meet some folks among us that are simply outstanding. ...and it isn't anything in particular we can quite put our finger on, ...it can be a soft 'whisper' of what we heard about someone, or a fluttering of a name here or there, ... but something small, and then gradually it takes on greater significance because it begins to affect us in ways we couldn't imagine.
My gratitude today (and yes, please, my customers are included), is to a person who helps others navigate the waters of ethical shopping. - LeeAnne McCoy, who single-handedly, without compensation of any kind, created the most intensive and all inclusive ethical shopping guide that exists today.
Here is my story. How I met LeeAnne McCoy
LeeAnne McCoy and her site https://www.changetheworldbyhowyoushop.com/ which is 100% free to the public and is 100% created by countless man hours and long nights that developed into days, weeks and months is an act of love from LeeAnne and showcases her commitment to provide change to developing countries through education, medicine and economic development. She created her site by herself, without any 'promotions', 'gifting', or 'fees'. She is a selfless woman who lives her life by her ideals and gives of herself, her time and her talents so lovingly. I am grateful to be in such company.
I met her along the way through a mutual facebook group, and one day she wrote to me and said:
"Hi! I found you through Molly Stillman's Purchase With Purchase Group. Your The Village Country Store looks really cool. I would love to visit next time I'm in Pennsylvania 🙂 Just wanted to let you know I added your store to my guide to Fair Trade retail locations on my website to help more people find you 🙂 www.changetheworldbyhowyoushop.com".
I clicked on her link, and nearly fell off my chair! I was dazzled! Her site was HUGE, and I mean REALLY REALLY HUGE... and since I own an online e-commerce site, I recognized the incredible amount of work it takes to put such a site together! - I couldn't believe it! This one woman, this beautiful spirit and soul, so tirelessly pours herself into all these businesses that advocate for change and she just 'jumps in' and says 'Hi, I am LeeAnne McCoy, how can I help?" -
Who is this earth angel? Why does she do what she does? She says it best in her own words:
"Let me introduce myself. My name is LeeAnne McCoy. I am a Christian and seek to follow God in all I do. I have been happily married for 17 years and am blessed with six wonderful young children. Change the World by How you Shop is my passion. But to explain, we will have to go back in time a bit.
The story behind this website starts over twelve years ago. My husband and I stumbled upon a video by Michael Card, showing imprisoned Chinese pastors being forced to work 16 hours a day until their fingers bled, making Christmas lights to send to the U.S. Wanting to show empathy for their suffering, we made a decision that day to stop buying products made in China.
As you can imagine, shopping for our family has been rather difficult ever since. But every time I put an object back on the shelf, disappointed after checking the label, I would remember those struggling in China and it no longer felt like such an inconvenience.
The world has changed a lot over the past twelve years. I do not know if imprisoned Chinese pastors are still being forced to make Christmas lights. But I do know that more and more has come out in the media over the years about the deplorable conditions in some Chinese factories. So my husband and I continued our personal boycott of China because we did not want to profit from other people being exploited. (Note: Not all Chinese factories are bad. We still buy from China when we can trace down enough information to feel confident the workers in that particular factory are treated well!)
But after years of shopping this way, I began to question what was the point? I did not share my conviction with others because it was personal and I knew that Chinese workers needed jobs, even sweatshop jobs, in order to feed their families. So how was my one-person boycott making any difference for those workers I wanted to help? Plus, the more I read in the news about exploitative conditions in other places, the more countries and brands I felt compelled to boycott. Pretty soon, I worried, I would be unable to purchase anything in good conscience!
I needed to know why I was shopping the way I was and whether or not it was worth doing. So I began reading...and researching...and studying...and praying....and researching some more. I learned about globalization, economics, poverty, modern-day slavery, child trafficking, sweatshops, bonded labor, fair trade, direct trade, free trade, trade agreements, activism, etc. until my head swam. I studied the issues from all sides and bounced deep questions off my patient husband, who as a first-year middle-school teacher already had enough on his plate!
The more I learned, the more depressed I became. To be honest, it would have been easier to stop researching. As the saying goes, "Ignorance is bliss!" And the problems were so deep and so vast and so far away. How could I possibly make a difference? Yet the more helpless I felt, the more passionate I became to do something. The question was what?
So I prayed...and prayed...and prayed some more. I considered organizing boycotts of brands known for utilizing exploited workers. But I learned that boycotts sometimes hurt those at the bottom of the supply chain because they lose that low-paying job they so desperately need. I considered becoming a Fair trade activist. I could feel better about my shopping and help rescue people from poverty, but what would I have accomplished for God?
It was my husband who challenged me to think outside the box. That and the inspiration of reading Kevin Belmonte's excellent Biography of William Wilberforce. What if there was a way to make a difference in a positive way? What if I could shop in a way that rescued people from poverty and slavery plus showed them God's love and true freedom? What if I could get other people on board to change how we shopped together and broaden the impact? Were there any other Christians out there who felt like I did?
I sat in front of my laptop and cried the day I found Amani Ya Juu's website. I was no longer alone. There were others who thought like me and were already out there making the difference I longed to be able to make. As you will see browsing through this website, Amani Ya Juu is just one of many faith-based organizations that are going even beyond Fair trade to save others from exploitation and make a real difference in people's lives. I have had to search hard to find them, but I am discovering more all the time. (See Brands We Love.)
At last I had found my mission. To connect people who want to make a difference by how they shop with those who are out there combating exploitation in the most positive way imaginable through God's love. So I have taken my years of research and combined it all into one, easy to use website so you can too can learn how to change how you shop. (I created the website I wish I had stumbled on years ago!) And you will find you are not alone. People from many different denominations, countries and backgrounds are also joining in to give a "hand up" from poverty and exploitation, utilizing trade to change lives. So, please help me spread the word, and together we can change the world by how we shop! Like Matthew West sings, let us "Do Something"..."
The Words Above Italicized and in Quotes, they are all LeeAnne's. She is a woman on a mission and she shares her love for humanity through her website. To find out more about her and her site please visit her at her site by clicking on the image below:
Thank you LeeAnne! May God Bless You and Keep You, You are an Inspiration to Us All!
Like and Follow LeeAnne on facebook https://www.facebook.com/changetheworldbyhowyoushop/
Ethical Shopping Guide Link: https://www.changetheworldbyhowyoushop.com/
- January 22, 2019
- Michele Adams