I find myself often wondering where I should shop. There are so many dimensions to this! Whether the food or other products are fairly traded, how much gas I have to use to get there and how much gas was used to move products there, local, organic, supporting various companies (or not), and stewardship of my monetary resources (cheapness).
I live in a small-ish town where we have a few grocery stores, and only one store that really has clothes and other helpful items, like kitchenware, etc.
We also have a Farmer's Market during the summer, many farms around where we can do U-pick berries and other fruits, and the ability to grow some fruits and vegetables ourselves in the summer months. There are also several CSAs in the area.
But you can't get everything from a CSA or a Farmer's Market, and I don't have the knowledge or interest to make ALL my family's food and other products myself. I think part of living in a community is that we shouldn't each have to reinvent the wheel...everyone does something to make society work, and when we all do our part then we can all reap the rewards of working together. Ideally.
The problem, of course, is that some people around the world get stuck in a factory for 16+ hours/day, sleep, and get up and do it again, just so we can have relatively cheap electronics--and we expect them to be grateful that they have a job.
And then there's the problem of transporting all these goods, which currently requires a lot of fossil fuels, which messes up the environment, and it also creates a culture that is dependent on oil, which causes us to think we have to fight wars to gain leverage in oil-rich areas of the world.
And then there's the problem of the healthiness of our food, and the health of workers who produced it, and the land it was produced upon. Using chemicals isn't good for any of these, but it's good for companies because they can make things more cheaply, which is good for us in that we can buy things cheaply and without having to grow them ourselves.
And then there's the problem of packaging, much of which ends up in the landfill. Even the things that we can recycle are often so costly to reuse that they don't actually get reused, so there are just warehouses full of "recycled" plastic.
Is using the Internet ecologically responsible, due to the huge data storage centers that have to be powered?
So, how do we navigate all of these dimensions at once? When I buy something local, it may or may not be organic. And what if something can't be found locally? Do I do without things like cars or computers because their parts are made in other countries? Do I go to another town or buy things online that are fairly traded, but waste gas to get it to me and money because said products are astronomically expensive? Do I try to buy things in bulk so that there's not so much packaging wasted? But if I buy in bulk from a big store (Costco, Winco), how do I know if their employees are being treated well and they get stuff that has been fairly traded? Do I just make my own suburban compound where I try to grow and store all my own food and make all the things I need from recycled stuff or trash?
How do you all navigate these questions? Are there Friends or other organizations you've found helpful in discerning which companies to buy things from?
Friends in the 19th century refused to wear clothes dyed by slaves. As Friends in the 21st century, how could we begin to actively address these things together?