The Better World Shopping Guide: 5th Edition: Every Dollar Makes a Difference Paperback – June 2, 2015
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While we generally try to make our vote count every four years, few of us realize that our most immediate power to shape the world is being squandered on a daily basis. Every dollar we spend has the potential to create social and environmental change. In fact, it already has. The world that exists today is in large part a result of how our purchasing decisions have already shaped it.
The Better World Shopping Guide rates hundreds of products and services from A to F so you can quickly tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys" and ensure your money is not supporting corporations who make their decisions based solely on the bottom line. Drawing on decades of meticulous research, this completely revised and updated fifth edition will help you find out who actually "walks the talk" when it comes to:
- Environmental sustainability
- Human rights
- Community involvement
- Animal protection
- Social justice.
Small enough to fit in a back pocket or handbag, and organized in a user-friendly format, The Better World Shopping Guide will help you reward the companies who are doing good, penalize those involved in destructive activities, and change the world as you shop!
About the Author
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This has changed the way I shop, hopefully for the good of the planet.
I am a long-time vegetarian and long-time environmentalist. I have been following Dr. Jones' "vote with your wallet" concept for many, many years (more than I care to admit), and I firmly believe that our voice is most greatly amplified when we speak daily from our role as consumer.
The GREAT thing about this book is that it is a concise, easy-to-carry, easy-to-consult-on-the-fly score card for most everything you might want to buy, from just about every company you can buy it from, and even from most of the places you'd be buying it. If you're already a well-informed green shopper and you have some experience with the politics of responsible consumption, then this is, indeed, a five-star book.
The downside to the book is that in order to make it a "pocket guide," it contains very little background information or explanation for why a particular company received the score they did. If you're new to the concept and find lots of your favorite products are getting Ds and Fs, then you are left almost on your own to find out why. (Of course, I'm all for doing your own research!) There are SOME explanations, but it's just not possible to detail the myriad reasons for corporate irresponsibility in a 177-page pocket-sized book.
There IS a web site for the book, but I don't think it's been updated for the second edition of the book, and it has very limited functionality. There is no search function, for example, and if there are details about specific company scores, I couldn't find them.
An example: I need some new pajamas. I have always liked shopping at Marshalls, not only because of the good prices and selection, but because I feel like my consumer dollar means less there---whatever I buy is usually past-season and is no longer part of the mainstream consumer chain. However, I checked my Better World Shopping Guide (page 134, Retail Stores) and find, much to my dismay, that Marshalls ranks a D minus! However, because they aren't the worst company on the page (that dishonor goes to Wal-Mart), there's nothing on the detail page to explain why Marshalls did so poorly.
I went to the web site and looked for nearly 15 minutes, and I still couldn't find anything to explain what a retail store had to do to rank a D minus. In fact, the listing under Retail Stores is from the first edition of the book, and Marshalls isn't even on the list. The small-print explanation beneath the chart discusses only how the data is collected and processed, and not WHY the companies received the grades they did. Since there's no search function, either, I couldn't simply type in "marshalls" and hope to find the answer to my question.
We NEED books like this, and we need people and organizations who can help us, the average consumer, understand how large corporations operate in relation to our world.
Big companies like Philip Morris (the world's largest tobacco company, who owns Kraft, Nabisco, and a few hundred other brands) don't make it easy for consumers to link their brands with the parent company. Lots of people, even you maybe, would be surprised to know that something as seemingly innocent as buying an all-American favorite like Kraft Mac & Cheese helps Big Tobacco's bottom line.
Even the grocery manager at my local Whole Foods didn't know that Back To Nature was a Kraft Foods holding when I asked him why Whole Foods Market even carries it and currently has the whole brand on store-wide sale. I've got the same question in to Whole Foods' corporate customer service, but I haven't gotten my answer yet.
I LOVE this book and will continue to carry it in my purse every time I go shopping, and will continue to consult it before every shopping trip (like today). However, what's missing is adequate back-up information for new users and for those of us who want to know WHY we're doing what we're doing. I wouldn't mind if the back-up was on the web site and not in the book itself, but it's not easy to find anywhere, and I don't think that's a good idea when your goal is to educate consumers to make better decisions. I also think that most people who buy a book like this are, by nature, the kind of people who ask the same questions I'm asking, and who want to know the facts.
I'm looking into The Better World Handbook to see if that is a recommended companion, so maybe the answers to my questions are there.
Human rights - do they have violation and are repeatedly being sued by employees? Sweat shops? etc
Environmental impact - toxic waste dumping, renewable energy, etc
Animal protection - animal testing, factory farming, sustainable harvesting, etc
Community involvement - is it a nonprofit organization? Lobbyists, political corruptness, donations, etc
Social justice - lawsuits, illegal activities, government fines, discrimination, etc
There is a list of cited resources to making the ratings. For example, the author uses information from the Better Business Bureau, The Ethical Consumer: Rankings and Boycotts, Clean Computer Campaign, Center For Public Integrity: Lobby Watch, and many more.
Who we give our money to does a lot more involving our environmental impact than politicians ever will. I carry this book whenever I go shopping and pretty much memorized the grades of different restaurant chains since I eat out often. It's pocket sized to keep in a purse or pocket to carry into a grocery store. If we speak our minds with our dollar it would be a better world. Ethically questionable businesses would go bankrupt and businesses with better ethical policies would grow.
I cannot say enough about how impressed I was when I bought this book from a little store on a vacation.
I decided to save a little money buying this pack in mass and I am giving a copy to family a friends who I think care enough about our world to use it.
The idea, as other reviewers have discussed, is that we can essentially regulate the economy by voting with our wallets, pushing our money towards the "A"-"B" companies and away from the "C"-"F" companies. Government regulation can only go so far; consumers must be vigilant in dictating the direction of the economy. This is capitalism at its finest, and I look forward to seeing future editions of this.