Compassionate Consumerism

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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When I was fourteen I remember babysitting and working on weekends as a bus girl at a restaurant. This was the first time in my life that I had my very own money. This was the first time that I could decide where I wanted to spend my money. This was also around the same time that I became a vegetarian and opposed to the animal testing of cosmetics and other products. So I used my money to buy makeup from Beauty Without Cruelty. At that time, I had to send for it in England. I couldn’t stand the thought of my money going to support companies that were testing their products on animals. I also bought myself a t-shirt that read “Compassionate Consumer” in big green letters across the front and it had a hand drawn picture of animals escaping from the testing laboratories.
I still consider myself to be a compassionate consumer and hope to teach these values to my children. Today I am still very concerned about who or what my money is going to support.  I am so thankful that it is easier to buy products that aren’t tested on animals. My concerns now are more turned to the people who make the products that we consume. If you are buying products that are made in developed countries you pretty much know that for the most part the person was paid a standard living wage and treated with some amount of dignity. This is a problem in many developing countries. That’s where Fair Trade comes in. Companies that are fair trade certified mean their workers were paid a living wage and promote sustainability. This is especially important for certain products such as rice, sugar and chocolate. These products are typically produced under less than ideal situations for the workers.
I try very hard to set a good example for spending money wisely. Big Z sees how we spend our money and I hope this will teach her to make wise decisions with her own money. I strongly believe in supporting local businesses and farmers and not supporting our local mega-mart. So we talk to our kids about buying products that are fair trade and about working conditions in underdeveloped countries. There was a show on Planet Green called “Blood, Sweat, and T-shirts”.  It took you inside the sweatshops and let you see how most of our clothes are made, how rice workers are treated and how families are destroyed by these practices. I don’t think fair trade is the solution to end these problems, but I do hope that by making wise choices with our money, that it will help my children at least think about where they’ll spend their money.
We are getting ready for the farmers market to begin again, and I am so excited. Shopping at the farmers market presents an awesome opportunity to teach about compassionate consumerism. When we buy our veggies from farmers we know, that makes us feel good. We know our money is being put back into our community. We know when we buy our jewelry and handcrafted items directly from the person, we can feel good about that purchase. I tend to be a little more free with my money at the Farmers Market because when I buy local, I am supporting families, not big business.
If you do eat meat, buying meat and dairy from farmers that you know makes you feel good about how the animals were treated. When you meet the farmers you can talk with them and even visit their farms. When I was buying milk from a farmer near my home, I got to meet the cow and see her grazing in the meadow.  I loved what that taught my children. When visiting the farms, you can see the passion and care they treat their animals with, it’s undeniable.  You know you are making the compassionate choice when you support these small farms and say “NO!” to the CAFOs.
While I do not go to extreme lengths to ensure every purchase is fair trade, we do make a conscious effort about choosing where we spend our money for our family. I hope this encourages our children to think about their purchase power and make wise and compassionate choices.
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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • The quiet advocate — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.
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12 thoughts on “Compassionate Consumerism”

  1. I love this post – It’s become a (good) habit of mine to buy local as much as possible, even when it means driving an hour into Amish country to get some good, sustainably produced goat cheese. I’m super excited that my area’s summer farmer’s market has finally opened, and I can’t wait to take my baby out and begin the ritual of Saturday market trips. I hope I can instill in him the same respect for his product sources and inspire him to make a conscious effort to go local and fairtrade.

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  2. Because fair trade and being an informed consumer have not been on my radar long, it is still such a great learning process for me. I admire the fact that you were already a compassionate consumer so young!!

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  3. We come at this from a slightly different perspective – we live in a developing country where most food is imported. We have made an effort to buy locally, and as we’re also vegetarian most of our food can come from the local farmers’ market. The problem is that I love Asian food and most of the local cuisine is meat-based. Our health foods stores are full of GM soy, which I’d like to see changed.

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  4. @panda I used to live in PA close the Amish, I really miss having those resources close by!! I just got an email my local farmers market is opening this week, woot!!@Write About Birth We are certainly spoiled here. It’s all about finding what works for your situation and finding that peaceful balance.

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  5. This a great post for CarNatPar! I too support making the compassionate choices when shopping. It can be a challenge since the less ideal choice can often be the cheaper choice. We try to make do with less and spend our money where we believe will support our ideals, like those you mention. I love getting our kids involved in the process. It’s a great way to advocate to them about compassion-especially when they ask “why?”

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  6. That’s so cool that it’s been such a long time for you that you’ve been concerned about consumption and living out your advocacy. I can totally imagine that t-shirt! We love going to farmers markets, too, and I can see how it’s teaching your kids the right things. I hope to become more conscious at some point (gulp). Thanks for the nudge!

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  7. What a great take on this topic. These are priorities in our life, as well, and it seems to be filtering out.My son decided to purchase fair trade chocolate for his “Secret Santa” gift at Christmas time, and as soon as the kids saw the fair trade logo, they looked straight at him. Which, as he points out, is both good (in that they recognize that he made the effort) and bad (in that it is only characteristic of him). He boosted the UNICEF water fundraiser quite a bit through similar advocacy. Maybe the other kids will start talking about fair trade.Hey! Thanks for the reminder. I think I’m going to go smooch that kid.

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  8. Yay for early advocacy!I started boycotting Nestle when I was 13 by refusing to drink the Juicy Juice my mom bought because they sold formula in developing countries.Thank you for an informative post 🙂

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  9. Inspiring! I can’t always make the choices I want when shopping, because of our budget. But I am trying to make small changes whenever I can.

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