You can Vote with Your Wallet

Contributing Writer: Misako Lauritzen

"Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words,
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values,
your values become your destiny."

-Mahatma Gandhi

Have you hugged your shopkeeper today? No, really. I am not joking. In this time and age, it is important to do business with people/companies whom you really like and respect, and whose values match your own.

Because you, as consumers, are powerful like you have never been at any previous time in the modern history. How you spend your money and whom you spend with matter. You can vote with your wallet. And I think it has everything to do with how healthy your lives are physically, emotionally and spiritually.

This morning I hugged a person who works at my favorite supermarket. It is a national chain, but I have been shopping at this particular location for the past sixteen years. They know what kind of food I like. They know what kind of a job I have. Most importantly they know my daughter. They have seen her grow up, and they ask about her.

In 2016, in "the Internet Age," it is significant. Person-to-person relationships. They matter more than ever. I do not shop anywhere else but that particular supermarket, because I like them. I know and like what values they represent and how they treat their employees. I agree with and support the world that they are trying to create. As a consumer it is important for us to know companies that we buy from: what values they represent and what kind of the world they are aspiring to build.

This morning I read an article about Chobani, a Greek Yogurt company who has the number one share in the U.S. market. Mr. Ulukaya, CEO, built it into a billion dollar company within four years since its founding. An entrepreneurial feat, but that is not why I admire him so much.

Mr. Ulukaya has given 10% of the company (stocks) to his 2,000 employees. He has donated half of his wealth (700 million dollars) to the recent refugee crisis. At his company fathers are entitled to a 6-week paid maternity leave. He proactively hires refugees from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey. in his factories so they may have a chance to build a new life. A noble endeavor he is getting death threats for.

From today on, the only Greek Yogurt that I buy will be Chobani. Not only because I like their products, but also because I agree with and support their vision, and I would like to be part of it.

Another news. Patagonia is closing all their stores, offices, customer services centers and distribution centers on the election day in order to make it easier for their employees to vote (and to raise awareness among the general public). That is bold. When they take a stand, they stand out. Consumers take notice. We support them by buying their products and services.

I think it is important for companies to have the balls. I think it is important for us consumers to use our purchasing power as means to influence where we are going collectively as a nation and as a humankind. Together we can build a healthier, cleaner and kinder world.