The Dilemma of a Conscious Consumer

As a high school student in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was faced with the daunting task of writing a ten-page research paper for my AP English class.  It wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to, too say the least.  I stumbled upon the topic of “businesses that give back,” after being impressed by a few companies who were very profitable and had also done so much good. The more I read, the more the topic pulled me in and I soon realized that this wasn’t just a paper I would blow off and wait until the last night to write. Instead, it was something I quickly realized I was passionate about. Here is a small part of my research paper to give a peek into why the rise in social-impact businesses isn’t just a passing phase and how this completely changed the way I think about business.

“Passion and work are kept separate for the main reason that sometimes one is not equivalent to another; oftentimes, work does not include one’s passion. When asked to start narrowing down my idea of what I would like to pursue after high school, I immediately knew that business was the path for me. I know that my brain functions in a manner that will equip me with the necessary tools to strive in some category of business but I don’t find happiness in going and sitting in an office all day or graphing numbers, the usual description of a job in business. Like many others, I seek purpose in my profession, not just the commitment of getting the job done, but also a sense of fulfillment beyond completion of a task. I want to extend my contribution to the world. My sister chose to study speech pathology, my grandmothers nursing. Both of these career options combine both work and helping others. They are contributing by lending a hand and in my opinion the future of our humanity depends on those who are doing even just a small part in improving our society and impacting others. I was left unsatisfied with the idea of not being able to do my part in a bigger way than just a few volunteer jobs, but I began to discover how many companies combine both the business element of making money and changing the world.  For my research project I have decided to pursue exploration in the category of for-profit companies that donate time, money, or products to others or the environment: Businesses that give back.”

Buy Better Stories has made me realize that despite all the negative and horrific things going on in our world, there are still people out there who care, who are devoted to making life better for others, for animals, for the environment, and more. I may be passionate about doing the “behind the scenes” work for companies who are socially responsible, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play a huge role in this growing movement.  By consciously deciding to spend a little more money on a product, you are buying a story: a story that may bring women in Kenya out of sex trafficking, an animal from the harm of cosmetic testing, or a homeless person out of poverty. After researching hundreds of companies who are cognizant of the impact they have on others, I have realized the tremendous impact that we as the consumers have in the economy. By continuing to buy unethically made products we allow manufacturers to continue on their path of business without becoming socially responsible.  It is said that a person who buys responsibly is willing to spend approximately 20% more on an item than usual.  How we choose to spend our dollars can make a big difference and a lasting change for someone else.  I encourage you to pause and consider having a few less items and to support the stories of those in need; the outcome is more than rewarding, it’s life changing.

Written by Nicole C., Buy Better Stories Intern