Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shopping for Good

This is a title of a small book (literally) published by the Boston Review in 2012. The effort is an essay by that title by Dara O'Rourke, an Associate Professor of Environmental and Labor Policy at UC Berkeley, with responses from a small group of experts on our consumer society. O'Rourke is also the founder of the Good Guide a website and downloadable app that allows consumers to match their values with more than 100,000 items in the marketplace.

O'Rourke details the philosophy and origins of this effort which operates under the belief that consumers can change the marketplace by the way they shop, and that tools like GoodGuide make that possible. Since I have been a proponent of that philosophy for years and celebrated GoodGuide's precursor, Alonovo, I found this brief discussion useful in broadening and deepening my own considerations of the role of shopping for a better world.

Scott Hartley (venture capitalist), Auret Van Heerden (Fair Labor Association), Margaret Levi (professor of Political Science), Richard Locke (Prof of Political science), Scott Nova (Workers Rights Consortium), Lisa Ann Richey (Prof of International Development), Juliet Schor (Prof. of Sociology) and Andrew Szasz (Prof. of Sociology) add criticisms that are respectful and fair and offer some serious points to consider as we try to find ways to create an earth community that thrives for all. It helps to remind me that the solutions we dream up are never fully successful, although the efforts described here, move us a bit closer towards a society where externalities are absorbed in the true cost of goods and services, in the direction of what Eisenstein calls 'sacred economics'. More on that to follow shortly.