It means you have the power to influence change with every purchase you make. When we buy, we vote for products that benefit us as people and our planet, or we vote for products that deplete natural resources, and negatively impact workers’ lives. There are brands and companies that are committed to being a part of the solution. When you support them, you support – and vote for – a new, more sustainable economy and we believe changing the way business is done is a quick path to creating positive change in the world.
The mission of the tri(tree) is to educate and inspire people and turn them into activists by empowering them to vote with their dollars. But, you might be asking, what exactly does it mean to vote with your dollar?
First, it’s important to recognize that the foundation of the triis the Roots. We believe the Roots start with taking responsibility for our actions. Personal responsibility for the world we are living in and for the role we play in the grand scheme of life. As we each begin to recognize our innate physical, spiritual, and emotional power, we can also choose to take an active role in our communities and be accountable for our actions.
With that in mind, the triviews the concept of voting with your dollar as an acknowledgement that every choice you make is either contributing a problem or a solution. Every day we make decisions about how, where, and with whom we will spend our hard-earned money. These decisions can either be a mindless exercise in consumerism, or a showcase of the principles you believe in, as well as a way to support those aligned with those principles.
When you begin considering how your decisions impact the people around you, the environment, and the world at large, it becomes quite obvious that voting with your dollar is of utmost importance. This also means that you don’t have to wait for the latest political election to vote! You can vote every single day through the actions you take and the relationships you choose.
Let’s break this down:
It’s Friday night, you are starving for some vegan yumminess but you need to hit the grocery to grab a couple more veggies. You hop on your bike and get ready to pedal out when you realize you have a choice to make: Do you take the short ride to the “conventional” supermarket? Or, do you take the scenic route and shop at the local, “organic” market?
Remember, when you choose to support that “conventional” grocery store rather than a local, organic market, you are voting with your dollar in favor of the multi-national food companies promoting high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and processed foods, the bio-tech companies that create GMO’s and a “profit at all costs” mentality. The decision to be a conventional customer expresses some level of support for their business, at the very least on a financial level, by giving them your time and money.
In the big picture, when you shop at the conventional grocery you are less likely to encounter brands which are thinking about the environmental impact of their business practices and products, not to mention the presence of artificial ingredients. As more organic grocers and farmers markets prohibit products which contain these ingredients you can not only guarantee that you are supporting a more environmentally friends business, but that you are feeding your temple organic whole foods.
There is a possibility that you could buy the organic products at a conventional grocery, which at least sends a message to that grocer that what you want is organic.
Rather than apathetically shopping where ever is most convenient, you can make a conscious choice to use your power as a human being to support the markets who provide quality food and practice regenerative environmental practices. They will put more and more organics on the shelf and less and less conventional and boom, you just became an activist! Next time you find yourself at the grocery, remember that you have the ability to use your power to uplift your body, your mind, and your community.
Other examples of voting with your dollar include the global March Against Monsanto, which saw hundreds of thousands of people marching against the practices of Monsanto Corporation from 2012 to 2015. The organizers didn’t stop at marches and rallies. They actually called for activists to stop supporting businesses who partnered with Monsanto or used their products. Those who chose to opt-out of business with Monsanto and their allies were exercising their right to vote with their dollar.
During the 2016 battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, The Standing Rock Sioux encouraged activists to divest from the bankswho were funding the project which threatened the environment and lands sacred to the indigenous communities nearby. The divest movement called on individuals and financial institutionsinvested in DAPL and parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, to pull their money out of these investments and out of the banks supporting the project. The result was overwhelmingly powerful, and helped stop the project.
Another example is one of the tri’s partners, Good Money, who is making an effort to disrupt and democratize access to banking services by launching a banking platform that aims to be a customer-owned cooperative. Gunnar Lovelace, founder and CEO of Good Money, says his goal is to radically change the way individuals use banks and hold money, including eliminating overdraft fees.
“ The top banks today make $30 billion a year in overdraft fees just out of people’s checking accounts and they will run a large check first so that all of the small checks in a check clearing cycle cause an overdraft fee,” Lovelace recently told Forbes. “They then run and share a blacklist amongst each other so that if you don’t pay the overdraft fees you get blacklisted out of the traditional banking system into a much more predatory and pernicious prepaid debit market and payroll market system.”
Gunnar is also determined to ensure that consumers have a stake in the business by giving consumers a percentage of shares of ownership. Good Money is also planning on using 50% of the platform’s profits for impact investments or philanthropic giving. This is the realization of voting with your dollar by offering consumers a better banking institution AND using the profits to positively impact the world.
Finally, we can see examples of voting with your dollar in various forms of tax resistance, a form of non-violent direct action used as a way to protest a cause or government. Prominent examples include the Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the U.S. Women’s Tax Resistance League during the Women’s Suffrage movement of the late 19th century. There are also “war tax resisters”who protest against violent wars by voting with their dollars and withholding taxes that pay for war.
Each of these represent a method of voting with your dollar which involves taking away or withholding money from an institution that is not aligned with your principles. But voting with your dollar also involves spending your funds on local entrepreneurs and sustainable businesses instead of the conventional stores that don’t need your money to survive. This is sometimes referred to as “conscious capitalism”.
We at the tribelieve that conscious capitalism can, with your help, make the world a much more just, beautiful place, which is why we believe voting with your dollar and your actions is so important. Think about the type of food you eat, the source of that food, the types of relationships you have, the way you communicate with other people, the source of your income, as well as the type of currency. Are these relationships and choices in line with your values and principles? If not, maybe it’s time for a change.
We are assembling an esteemed group of citizens under a common agenda to create a road map for the future we desire together. We are looking for people who are awake, people who care, people who want to be part of the solution, and most importantly, manifest a better future for the coming generations. Join us in the tri’s mission by taking the pledge to vote with your dollar!