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Ways to do good


There is no planet B

Jute Bag, by The Jacksons

If I gave you a share of £922 billion, what would you do with it? Buy a new house? Sort out your family? Shop for that emerald stone tiled flamingo enclosure you’ve always wanted? Er, just me then…

Either way, consumer spending in the UK amounted to more than £1.23 trillion in 2020¹, and it’s estimated that women control 70-80% of that² — which equates to around £922 billion. That means that however little we might have each (thanks, gender pay gap!), our spending power is actually pretty phenomenal between us. Couple that with the fact that we’re potentially the most efficient beings on the planet because it’s in our bones, surely now is the time to pull together, put this power to good use and start changing the world for the better.

On International Women’s Day, we shared a piece of artwork urging people to shop with Janet not Jeff. We wanted to encourage the nation to vote with their money for the kind of world we want to live in and support female founders. But actually it’s vital we shop with anyone but Jeff because let’s face it, we don’t need to spend our hard earned cash putting anyone else on the moon do we?

Not on Amazon, buy smart sign, by Joby Carter

What we do need is a better, fairer, kinder, greener world for us all to live in. As we women are the ones controlling so much of the household spend, it’s up to us to lead by example. We need to live out the values we say we have, because between us we are spending billions. We need to change the retail industry by changing our behaviour.

Shopping as a form of protest  

Imagine there being TV programmes in years to come documenting the incredible difference women made to the way we consume in the 2020s. How proud would we be for our children to watch that? We’re at a turning point and what we do now is critical. There are businesses out there, greenwashing but not really helping the planet or not paying their workforce equally or hiring fairly, counting their fortunes but not really caring about anything but making money. And there are businesses out there who work their backsides off every day to support our society, community and ecology. 

From social enterprises or those with groundbreaking sustainability practices, to those who donate to charitable causes, you’ll find some truly inspiring examples in my Holly loves… businesses that do good’ article. You can also support specific underfunded groups like female founded or black owned businesses (see my Directory for more ideas there, too). If we can really make a tangible difference to everyday lives, doesn’t it make more sense to shop with them? To actively help the challenges we’re all facing, rather than topping up a billionaire’s bank balance?

Artwork, by Dave Buonaguidi for Holly & Co’s Campaign Independent

In the same way all those incredible women before us found time to protest at Greenham Common or march for the right to vote, what if we could look back in the same way and say, “We didn’t sit back and do nothing. We united peacefully and did something about it. We turned our words into action and galvanised our community to put our money to good use.” Those women chained themselves to railings and all we need to do is shop differently — and the best part? When surveyed, 83% of us said we feel that companies should only earn a profit if they also deliver a positive impact³.

It’s fantastic we feel this way because every single one of us needs to consciously consume, not as a ‘nice to have’ but to ensure there’s a planet, and way of life, left for us all to enjoy. I have started to look at myself and my health on hitting my mid forties. I can’t help but feel I am somehow halfway through my life and I am hyper aware that I need to start taking this seriously and looking after myself if I want to be here to meet my grandchildren one day. It’s simply a reality that unless I make positive changes now, the outcome is highly likely to be unfavourable. And the same is happening with the way we shop.

Vote with your money rosette, by Emma Giacalone for Holly & Co

The best part? When surveyed, 83% of us said we feel that companies should only earn a profit if they also deliver a positive impact³.

Make your money go further in more ways than one 

When the founder of Howies, The Do Lectures and Hiut Denim, David Hieatt was on my podcast, he told the most incredible story about Patagonia. When he first started working with them many years ago, he wrote a piece of copy about a carrot. He traced its journey from Poland all the way to Cardigan in Wales — every left turn, every right turn, every roundabout even — he tracked the entire piece, and it was this that inspired Patagonia to create their Footprint Chronicles. The Footprint Chronicles publicly share information about all of Patagonia’s suppliers, in a bid to be transparent and how wonderful would it be if more businesses operated like this? There are so many less ordinary founders out there who work their socks off to achieve amazing things, who use our money to power positive change — and all we need to do is support them. 

Here’s where you start

Ok let’s get practical. It’s not as if every time you shop you automatically think to yourself, “Oh hang on. Is there a business that does good that offers this product or service instead?” Of course you don’t because you’ve got a life to live. The good news is I’ve done the thinking for you and here’s what you can do…

  • Split your shopping into buckets — this will take two minutes but just think about what you spend your money on; going out, on your household, at work or on gifts, for example. Which areas could you make changes in most easily? If you’re going out for dinner for example, could you choose a social enterprise restaurant rather than a regular one? If you’ve got a gift to buy, could you shop from a small business? If you’re hiring someone for work, could you look at etc and choose your team progressively? You’ll find plenty of ideas in my 10 positive eco-swaps your household can make article or Holly loves… businesses that do good.
  • Then set yourself the same challenge that I’m setting for myself and our team — see if you can swap 50% of your usual spend this month to shop with businesses or services that do good. Talk to people about it, too. The more of us that do it, the greater the difference we’ll make.

Letterpress, by the Department of Small Works

We need to, hand on heart, say we’ve done this and at the very least, give it a go. We can be the generation that helped conscious consumerism turn a corner. We can shop positively. We can change the world. Even if you only manage 20% of your 50,  that’s 20% more than you were doing and that’s a start. Plus if you think of the impact that would make when we all do it, it suddenly adds up immensely. So many of our community have committed to doing this already, so please join us. It takes every one of us to just try.

Thinking about it, if I won the lottery now, I’d take a leaf out of Dame Stephanie Shirley’s book as she said on my podcast, “The more I give, the richer my life becomes.” She’s given away more than £70 million to good causes. Well, if we’ve got £922 billion between us, let’s start being mindful about what we do with it because make no mistake about it. Our shopping really can change the world. Let’s do something good.

Leather Wallet, by MW Makes for Holly & Co

If you need more inspiration on this topic, see my article Holly’s spring breakfasts of hope, Holly loves… Ukraine and Holly loves… Businesses that do good.

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