The money we routinely spend on food, clothes, gifts, and even indulgences is an untapped superpower. What would happen if we slowed down to make more thoughtful decisions about what we buy? For "mom and pop" stores across the country, and artisan and agricultural communities around the world, every purchase matters.
Consumerswhether individuals, small businesses, or corporationsare paying more attention than ever to how their goods are made; and retailerslarge and smallare responding by investing in ethical and eco-friendly production. Yet figuring out which brands to support can feel overwhelming. Jane Mosbacher Morris has devoted her career to creating economic opportunities for vulnerable communities around the world, and in this valuable book, she shares her passion and insights on how we, as consumers, can create positive change too.
Covering topics that range from why not all factories are evil, to how our morning coffee can be the easiest way for us to use our purchasing power for good, Buy the Change You Want to See makes us better informed consumers. Morris tells inspiring stories about how victims of human trafficking and natural disasters have been empowered by economic opportunity, and she offers practical ideas about how we can support these communities through our purchaseswhether it comes to jewelry made from recycled materials in Haiti, sustainably grown and ethically sourced coffee and chocolate from farmers in some of the poorest regions of the world, or mass-produced jeans and shoes made in factories where workers are guaranteed decent working conditions and a fair wage.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.46(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.67(d)|
About the Author
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a MBA from Columbia Business School. She is proud to be married to fellow entrepreneur, Nate Morris of Kentucky.
Wendy Paris is an author and journalist who has written on arts and culture, travel, business, and psychology for The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Psychology Today, among others. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University.
Table of Contents
Introduction Why a Book About Socially Conscious Consumerism? Why Now? 1
Chapter 1 Wear Your Values: Custom Products That Reflect More Than Your Favorite Logo 21
Chapter 2 This Bracelet Builds Community: Gifts That Give Back 53
Chapter 3 Your Latte Can Improve Lives: How Coffee Fuels Economic Development 85
Chapter 4 Why Reinvent the Wheel When You Can Repurpose It? Finding Real Value in Overlooked Places 131
Chapter 5 Not All Factories Are Equal, or Evil: Line Production Done Well 167
Chapter 6 Just Desserts for Everyone: Making Chocolate Sweet for the Farmers Who Grow It 197
Selected Reading 243
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide
BUY THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE
Use Your Purchasing Power to Make the World a Better Place
A TarcherPerigee Trade Paperback | $17.00 | 9780143133216
January 29, 2019
1. The driving theme of Buy the Change You Want to See is that our purchasing power is an untapped superpower. Mosbacher Morris built the company TO THE MARKET around the idea that individual consumers, as well as companies, can change the world for the better with our wallets, leading to concrete improvements in people’s lives. Which story or example in the book inspired you most to buy the change you want to see?
2. The artisan industry is the second-largest in the developing world, after agriculture. Did this fact surprise you? What do you think of when you hear words like “eco-friendly” or “women-made”? Are these descriptors important to you? Why or why not?
3. Shelley Jean, founder of Papillon in Haiti, said the following: “If you want to help, it’s really important to take the time to look and listen before jumping in and trying to do. We don’t know the nuances of different cultures, and there’s a reason behind everything they do. Coming from a non-poverty mindset, we need to work to understand the reasons before trying to change behavior.” In what ways can we think before we jump? Share an example from the book or your own life that exhibits this type of thoughtfulness behind a particular effort.
4. Analysis paralysis is a very real thing and can lead us to inaction. How did the book inspire you to act? What specific tips or stories helped you break analysis paralysis and to focus on things you can do to effect change? (For example, coffee is one of the easiest ways for many of us to use our purchasing power for good.) Did you have a favorite list of ideas from the book you plan to act on? (Examples can be found on pages 79, 82, 116, 182, among others.)
5. Mosbacher Morris is very clear about the fact that her vision of using economic approaches to address social problems isn’t guaranteed to help all people involved, and that giving serious and ongoing thought to the real sustainability of a particular approach and vision is crucial. Does the idea of focusing your efforts to make them more effective inspire you or send you back to analysis paralysis? If the latter, what are ways to break out of that mindset and channel your energy for good?
6. Businesses today need to show they are doing good in the world thanks to the Trifecta of Pressure and Interest : 1) growing consumer demand to know more about how products are made; 2) increased scrutiny by the press, investors, employees and amateur investigative reports; and, 3) new regulations. How does this trifecta improve things in terms of labor and the environment as well as benefit businesses and the bottom line?
7. Women are especially vulnerable in low-income communities. Without earning power, others can silence you–women traditionally do not have earning power in many parts of the world and, therefore, little to no voice. The story of Sipacapa, Guatemala (pages 105-109) offers a very specific example of how empowering women economically has changed long-standing gender dynamics in a community. Discuss how that happened in this case, looking at how both private business and nonprofits worked to benefit this community and change women’s lives.
8. What impact has Starbucks had on the coffee commodity market and coffee industry as a whole? What type of company do you think it would it take to have a similar impact in the chocolate or fashion industries? Do you think those industries need a Starbucks equivalent to leverage big business for serious change or do you see potential alternative paths to the same type of transformation?
9. Factories provide real jobs for real people (yes, humans are making those seemingly perfect items of clothing you wear!) and are a critical part of growth in many developing nations. As such it is important to understand what makes a factory (big or small) either “good” or “bad.” How does the example of Timberland in Dominican Republic show the “good” aspects of factory work and the positive impact on a community? How can we make sure companies continue to work with factories that are good stewards to the labor force and the environment?
10. Historically chocolate has a sour history from a labor and environmental perspective. Given that chocolate is part of the livelihood of some estimated 50 million people worldwide, in what ways can focusing on the environment, technology and communication help impact those people in a positive way in this industry? In what ways are both small-batch chocolate makers and large chocolate companies changing things for the better and how can we as consumers tap into that change?
11. What was the most surprising thing you learned from each section of the book: Custom Products, Gifts, Coffee, Repurposing, Factories and Chocolate?
12. Who do you think needs to read this book and why?