Written by Lucinda Staniland. Lucinda is a freelance writer and the editor of The Yoga Lunchbox. She is passionate about food, words and living well.
Why should I care about Conscious Consumers’ Good Spend Counter? In a hectic and overwhelming world, I ask myself these kinds of questions on daily basis.
I’m the kind of person that cares. I make an effort: I recycle and compost; I practice yoga daily; I buy local, free range food; I ride my bike and take public transport; I read and write voraciously about the issues that fire me up.
But I can’t care about everything. So when I heard about the Good Spend Counter my thought process went something like this—There are so many businesses, apps and organisations calling out for my attention, why should I pay attention to this one?
You might be wondering what the Good Spend Counter is. In fact, it’s a very simple creature. The five steps below sum it up nicely.
- Choose the issues you care about.
- Register your credit cards and EFTPOS cards.
- Spend at registered businesses (businesses that do good, or want to do good).
- Your spending motivates businesses to do good.
- You get free things.
Sounds pretty good right? But for me, just knowing how the Good Spend Counter worked wasn’t quite enough to convince me that I should care about it, or that I should devote some of my precious time and energy to signing up. I needed more; I needed to see proof that the Good Spend Counter mattered.
And then I found my evidence. Five compelling, relevant reasons why the Good Spend Counter matters, and why I’m saying count me in.
1) It makes your values visible (to businesses that care)
Let’s take an everyday example: you decide to go to Southern Cross Restaurant and Bar for an evening out, because you know that they are committed to only using free range meat. You know why you chose Southern Cross over the rest of the Wellington restaurant scene, but they have no idea.
As far as Southern Cross know you chose them because you have a weakness for their delicious stone grills, or because you saw a good review on Tripadvisor. Your values are invisible to the business that you have chosen to support, and even though you care, they don’t know that you care, and they don’t know what you care about.
The Good Spend Counter radically changes this dynamic and transforms your values into a powerful force for good.
Now, without any extra effort on your part, you can let the businesses that you support know a) That you care, and b) What you care about. This information motivates businesses to truly embody the values of their customers and to make decisions that are in alignment with what their customer's care about.
2) It transforms consumerism into something empowering and impactful.
While our individual spending may be small, together conscious consumers have spent over $500,000 since the Good Spend Counter launched in September 2016.
In my own experience, being a consumer isn’t an empowering experience. The word originally referred to, “one who squanders or wastes,” and while its modern usage has shed some of its initial negativity, it’s still not an inspiring experience to be labelled as, “a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.”
The Good Spend Counter changes all this. When you sign up to the Good Spend Counter your consumerism becomes powerful. How? Because now every dollar you spend contributes to large-scale and lasting changes for good. Your individual consumerism becomes our collective purchasing power, a power that supports and motivates businesses to change for the better.
3) It motivates businesses on the edge of change to take the next step.
The Good Spend Counter sends business on the edge of change the message that they need to hear. The message is this: Consumers are more than just dollar figures—consumers care, and what they care about matters.
No business is perfect, but every business can improve. Some of the businesses on the Good Spend Counter are accredited—meaning that they have fulfilled Conscious Consumers' accreditation standards—but others are not. These businesses are not yet able to meet the standards, but they are passionate, curious, and, most importantly, they recognise that what consumers’ care about matters, and they are working with Conscious Consumers to improve their practices: We call them Insight Businesses.
Insight Businesses are where big, truly transformative change is possible. Among our Insight Businesses are big fish, like Z Energy, Kathmandu and Green Cabs. When consumers start to influence big businesses like this, in the mainstream economy, our purchasing decisions start to have powerful and far-reaching impact.
Insight businesses are businesses on the edge of change, and they need support. The work that needs to be done is hard. Committing to being a business that does good for people and planet is not quick, easy or cheap work. It’s a brave and risky choice to make.
When you add your voice to the Good Spend Counter, you are directly supporting the people who are willing to take risks, like the team at Mexicali Fresh who, since joining Conscious Consumers, now only purchase free range meat to use in their tasty tacos and burritos.
Your spending sends businesses like this a powerful message—that you care!— and gives them the information and motivation they need to up their game.
4) It’s not just about your morning cup of coffee
The Good Spend Counter isn’t just about hospitality businesses; it’s relevant to every aspect of your life. Conscious Consumers began as an accreditation system for hospitality businesses, but it has since expanded (and is continuing to expand) to include a wide range of businesses and suppliers.
So now, when you buy a pair of yoga pants from WE-AR, sign up with Meridian Energy, purchase a new jacket from Kathmandu, call a Green Cab, shop for gifts at big high street brands, pick up groceries at New World or fill up with petrol at Z energy, every dollar you spend can be transformed into a vote for better business in New Zealand.
No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, you can contribute to the Good Spend Counter, and to the better world we know is possible.
5) And yes, you get some free stuff too.
This makes it in at #5 because for me it’s not a core motivating factor for caring about the Good Spend Counter. But it’s certainly a nice bonus: Fancy a $2 coffee in your BYO cup? How about two for one vegetarian meals? Or a free side salad with your main?
These freebies are a great opportunity for businesses to showcase the awesome work that they are already doing, and for us conscious consumers to treat ourselves to some guilt-free goodies.
As for me, I did it! I signed up to the Good Spend Counter and I’m so glad that I did. It was a simple, straightforward process, and now every dollar I spend communicates my values to businesses that care. I’m not a lone consumer anymore; I’m part of a powerful movement for better business in New Zealand.
When we live in such saturated environments, both online and offline, it’s hard to find and pay attention to the things that really matter. I’ve come to see that the Good Spend Counter is like a jewel shining through the noise and dust of contemporary life: it matters, and it needs to be cared about.
So go on, pick up the jewel. Sign up, and transform your spending into a vote for a better world.