The Book That Changed Shopping

My dear friend Sarah just introduced me to the most incredible little book: The Better World Shopping Guide. This pocket-sized guide is designed to help you make the best brand choice on over 70 categories of products. From gasoline to feminine care to electronics, the book uses an easy-to-read grading system to compare companies’ records on social and environmental responsibility.

The most helpful thing about this guide for me is knowing how to pick the greenest company for essential products that really don’t seem very green. For example, I learned from this book that BP-Amoco is one of the best companies from which I can buy my gas. Among other positives, the company is the largest solar power manufacturer in the world. I also now know to never buy gas from Exxon-Mobil, the #1 worst corporation on the planet (yikes).

The guide has been compiled by one Ellis Jones, a sociology professor at UC Davis with a passion for turning knowledge into practical actions. He has painstakingly researched all the major corporations using an incredible variety of reliable sources. Here’s an excerpt by Jones from the book’s introduction:

Money is power…As trillions of dollars accumulate in the corporate sphere, we witness the growing power of corporations to shape the world as they see fit…We must shift our own voices if we wish to be heard…As consumers we vote every single day with the purest form of power, money. The average American family spends around $18,000 on goods and services. Think of it as casting 18,000 votes every year for the kind of world you want to live in.

This guide is an empowering way to use the power of your dollars, no matter how many or how few you have, to shape the world as YOU see fit. The book is purposely small enough to fit in your purse or pocket so you can carry it whenever you shop. It’s already guided me to select Clif bars (A rating) over Balance bars (F rating). Previously I would have assumed the two bars had more or less the same social and environmental impact, but apparently they do not. Get yourself this book and get shopping!

Coming tomorrow – Day five in two weeks of fair trade product reviews! Fair trade handicrafts (including Bambootique, but so much more).

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2 Comments

  1. sarah johnson said,

    May 9, 2008 at 9:36 am

    How great to spread the word on this book! I’m so glad that you are enjoying it & so glad to see the little ways you can change your habits. When we got the book, we knew that it meant we would need to re-evaluate the way we shopped…first things first- I had to give up my cheap Garnier Fructis Hair Products (they work so well for me, but I just can’t support a company with poor business ethics) and Mike had to give up Hot Pockets (his last link to his College/Bachelor days…again POOR ethics!). We made the same switch to only buying BP/Amoco gas…you start taking on one thing at a time. Choosing the wise products when shopping. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just live in ignorance and just buy whatever we want, but it’s empowering to feel like you are supporting companies/people/products that can make a difference in our world. So…we have loved this book & are so glad to hear you spread the word…now I just need my copy back so I can put it all to good use again!

  2. KarenP said,

    May 9, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Oh, stink. I love Balance Bars. Sigh. Yes, living in ignorance is definitely easier. But boy is this $4.59 bar of fair-trade chocolate that I’m stuffing my face with yummy! :^)


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