by Heather Burns
Have you ever bought something just because it was a good deal? Over the years, I’ve been guilty of “retail therapy,” like buying discounted designer shoes that were a half size too small; plastic, disposable toys made in China because they were 4 for $1; and a new comforter (full of fire retardants) with each new season that fell apart within months. While these “bargains” may have temporarily quelled my urge to consume, not only did they mean nothing to me 5 minutes after walking out of the store, they came attached to an enormous ecological price tag.
My awareness has grown over time and I've made progress toward becoming a more conscious shopper (mostlly by avoiding places like the mall altogether), but Rick and Elizabeth Conrad, co-founders of Common Good Market have a mantra: buy things made to last by people who live and work in your community. An online marketplace of artisan-crafted home goods sourced and assembled in New England, Common Good Market has a vision of connectivity that inspires.
Quality vs. Quantity
“When we focus on buying items based on quality, beauty and utility – we surround ourselves with things that serve our needs and that we treasure, value and pass on,” Conrad says. “I’ve been married for thirty years and like a lot of people in that situation, we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff that has or will end up in the waste stream. Instead, we can buy things made by people whose story we know and whose work we love.”
Conscious consumer advocates would argue that this type of “conscious consumerism”—that is understanding that value extends beyond price – is more personally rewarding and has far less negative impact on the environment than purchasing disposable or products that suffer from planned obsolescence.
Building a Living Economy
And it’s not just the environment that benefits from products like those featured by Common Good Market – the local economy is also positively impacted by purchasing locally-sourced, handmade or small batch manufactured goods. “When we choose to buy a table made by a local artisan using sustainably harvested woods, we will absolutely spend more money on that table than we would spend for a table at the chain furniture store. The table at the chain may look nice and may even be made from solid, sustainably harvested wood. But if the table is imported, then how did that purchase support our local workforce? How much of what we spent went back to support the people living and working in our own neighborhood,” says Conrad.
“Visit our site (www.commongoodmarket.com) and read artisan profiles about the lives, passion and dedication of the artisans we’ve come to know and love,” Conrad says.