Let’s Support Small and/or Sustainable Businesses When Possible

When we need to buy our friend a birthday present, it’s easy to pop in Walmart and grab a candle, a knick-knack, a planter, etc. But items that are handmade or made responsibly are way cooler! Let’s discuss why we should support small and/or sustainable businesses, and I’ll share pics of some recent purchases.

Small business is the backbone of society. Of course, corporations like are vying to eclipse the economy, but small businesses were around long before huge companies. BTW, I don’t like to approach topics without nuance, so I must concede that corporations are not literally evil; they do create jobs and provide cheap goods for those who struggle financially. Nonetheless, small businesses are vital, and we should support them when possible.

There’s a fine line between necessity and convenience. In other words, some people truly cannot afford to shop anywhere that isn’t dirt cheap…but many of us simply choose cheap goods out of privilege. We are privileged if we believe that a T-shirt ought to cost $10, yet we don’t have to think about the low wages and terrible treatment of the workers. We’ve become accustomed to the luxury of “fast” consumption (fast fashion, fast furniture, etc.), neglecting to consider how the company cuts corners with responsible environmental care. [Sadly, the latter leads to marginalized people dealing with issues like toxic waste in their water supply.]

Maybe it seems funny and somehow incongruent to call inexpensive items luxurious. Really, our hypermaterialism is the luxury, and our rapid, even compulsive consumption of cheap goods is just a symptom. We buy five inexpensive sweaters made in horrible conditions without a second thought, rather than having the self-control and mindfulness to save up for one sweater made sustainably by workers making fair wages.

We can and should be better stewards of the Earth and love our neighbors in Vietnam, Bangladesh, China, etc. Some may argue that NOT supporting “fast” companies will ultimately hurt the workers even more; having a bad job is better than having none. I understand the point, but let’s think a little deeper. If consumers demanded quality products and fair working conditions, companies would be forced to follow our wallets. Regulations and lack thereof, lobbyists, loopholes, and all that jazz play huge roles, too…but that’s another subject. 😉

I’ll be the first to admit that some things just have to be purchased from a big, we-sell-everything type of store. For instance, I often wear earplugs during the night because I’m a fickle sleeper. Finding sustainable earplugs would be tough. Still, it’s easy to fall into lazy habits and justify them. Ex: I buy books on Amazon, knowing deep down I could find a small online bookstore to support and only buy the ones I can’t find elsewhere from Amazon. I’m even stepping on my own toes here! As of writing this, I’m convicted to try a little harder to follow my advice of supporting small and/or sustainable businesses when possible.

Below, I’m going to share some photos of some recent purchases from sustainable brands, a local crafter, and crafters on Etsy:

  1. I bought the artwork from Funky by Nature. The owner Michelle, who lives near me, makes art with upcycled materials–so cool!
  2. The tiny air plants came from Bella’s Bloom Shop. There are also three in the first pic–can you spot them all? 🙂
  3. These tiny, chic planters came from Etsy.
  4. These reusable cotton rounds with a matching drawstring bag came from Etsy. Yay for ditching the single-use cotton rounds!
  5. This handmade bag came from Humble Hilo, which provides gainful employment to Guatemalan women. Also, at check-out, you choose whether your purchase goes to support a nutrition, job skills, or literacy program. Get the woman in your life a Christmas gift that’s beautiful, unique, AND truly meaningful!
  6. My future MIL bought me these handmade earrings, which happen to be the prettiest I’ve ever laid eyes on. Pictures don’t do them justice.
  7. I tried to take the pic in a way where you could see that the pair on top is thicker than the pair on bottom. And get this–the ones on the bottom are Levi’s! The pair on top, the best ones I own, are from Revtown, a sustainable brand. The owners used to work at Under Armor and somehow use the same magic that makes Under Armor so thick and warm. Also, I’m tall, and these are one of the few pairs of jeans I own that cover my ankles.
  8. I’m so obsessed with how warm, soft, and cute these are that I own the same shirt in three patterns. United by Blue removes a pound of plastic from the ocean for every item sold!

Thanks for reading! Do you support small and/or sustainable businesses? Let me know in the comments.

15 comments

  1. Hey Lily,

    Great post (I have come to expect no less!). I think I agree with everything you said, and the pictures of the items you bought from sustainable retailers are fantastic; I’m a fan of check shirts myself!

    Loads of things came to mind but I will just make a single point out of respect for you and your comments section.

    I think the two things that put people off shopping at independent retailers are cost and convenience. However, if we can adopt a minimalist perspective, and think about our possessions in a ‘one out, one in’ kind of way (i.e. we only buy something when something else needs replacing) then we will end up saving LOADS of money, and then we can buy a lovely item from an independent retailer and feel really good about it.

    In terms of convenience, it will always feel more satisfying if we have invested a little effort into a purchase, because we will feel good about being thoughtful, and as the saying goes, ‘you get out what you put in’. So we will feel more value attached to an item we had to travel to purchase, or one we made ourself, rather than one that is delivered to our door (possibly!).

    I have only recently started adopting the ‘one out, one in’ approach myself. I’m hoping it will stop my ‘on a whim’ decisions to purchase everything from the huge conglomerate that shall remain nameless!

    P.S. I challenge you to make an inventory of everything you own!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Steven, appreciate your consistent support and also your input! Good point that a ‘one in, one out’ mindset could enable one to afford pricier purchases–essentially, quality over quantity. But Americans in particular are so accustomed to hyperconsumption that they can’t picture it. We have huge houses just to fit all our junk. Many of us grew up in halfway-hoarder houses. I personally believe that has been a big drive for the minimalist movement–rebelling against that constantly cluttered way of life that many milennials were forced to endure for years. Also a good point that we value our things more if we’re intentional with our purchases. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! This is all so important. I love buying art from my friends and other people in my community, though I don’t have the opportunity to do so as often as I would like. I’ve also personally started selling my art through pages like Redbubble, but would love to start selling on Etsy at some point! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember a few years ago I didn’t even consider these issues. Usually I just got things wherever was convenient. But the more I learn about small businesses, the more I try to shop there, as well as thrift shopping over shopping for new things. I’ve recently found a vintage bookstore and tea shop near my house and I love going there to support them. I just love how personal small businesses are, while big business you’re just one among millions of customers.

    Liked by 1 person

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