I recently was shopping around the internet. Millions of shops, millions of opportunities, and one question: What is my responsibility? How can I spend money and be responsible?
We all know about shops that use sweatshop labor, specifically in the fashion industry, to meet the demand for low prices and high demands. However, we also know that humans are hunters; the drive for finding that little something we can snatch, and believe that it’ll make us happy, is in our genes.
At this point, in 2021, ideas of "conscious" or "conscientious" consumption have become popular, especially in the online market. Hashtags such as #buyblack and #shoplocal were trending in 2020 and have been trending ever since.
When we read those headlines we tend to forget that these are actual people.
The conscious process of buying while also doing good is more omnipresent than ever in an America that is deeply divided and ever-searching for solutions to our most urgent issues. Access to health care, racial inequality, poverty, and criminal justice are a few topics our nation is battling with currently, and we haven’t found our savior yet.
Many people, including me, are realizing that it is not enough to wait for the savior (whoever she may be) to make a change in this world. It is up to each and every one of us to stand up for one another, no matter how different we are, to heal this world.
Philadelphia is no exception. We open the newspaper and hear about another fatal shooting in North Philly and another horrible click-bait story about the “drug crisis” in Kensington; and yet, when we read those headlines we tend to forget that these are actual people.
We can be a part of reinstating what our society has denied to people in difficult situations — humanity.
We are not talking about shooters and victims, drug users and drug dealers. We are talking about our neighbors. These are the people you see on the El, the person that said, “How ya doin’,” when your eyes meet on the way to the Flyers game or at the coffee shop in Center City.
Why don’t we think about them when we shop? You and I can be change-makers. We can be a part of reinstating what our society has denied to people in difficult situations — humanity.
Prevention Point Philadelphia has recently launched an online store that helps people facing homelessness and substance use disorder, and it benefits everyone: customer, producer, and beneficent. The store runs under the title “Help Local, Shop Local,” and functions pretty much like any other store.
You can buy a bed frame for $505, a cooling rack for $7.50, a pair of socks for just $1, and many more items. The big difference is that you are not buying it for yourself, but for your unknown but very real neighbor — the person from the Flyer’s game or the coffee shop.
Prevention Point buys the items from local stores, helping to revitalize industries that were hit hard by COVID-19, and uses them to make their new respite center a home — Beacon House. Your purchases help the City of Philadelphia as they will increase job security and job opportunities, and will make our City a safer space for so many.
And here I am now, browsing on the internet with all these thoughts. Should I get this blouse and then forget about it the minute I purchase it? Should I purchase these shorts and support a sweatshop abroad, or should I think local and make our City a more just place for us all? These blankets look cute - $9 - add to cart, checkout, done. I am slurping a glass of homemade iced tea, feeling good. Maybe I’ll buy a bed tomorrow.