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Silver Lining

July 22, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

We are all on the edge of our seats, watching the economic situation, and holding our breath until these tough times are over. As a retailer, this is certainly true for me. But there is another part of me that sees a positive element to this recession—and that’s the environmentalist part.

Strange for a retailer to say, but I’m a little glad that demand is down. I think we demanded too many things in the first place! Our planet simple cannot handle all of our demands.

But we have to live too, right? We need things. And as a retailer, I need to sell things in order to keep a roof over my head. I heard this morning that retail sales are going back up. This is only good news to me depending on what it is people are buying.

I do not believe we can go back to our addiction of buying stuff without considering where and how it was made. It is my great hope that we take this slowdown (or standstill, more likely) in our economy to re-adjust our buying habits. We cannot address the health of our economy and not address the health of our planet and, thereby, the health of ourselves. Without clean air to breathe and water to drink, what good is all the money in the world? As visionary Kenneth Boulding remarked, “Anyone who thinks exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Our economy has been established on a “bigger, better, faster” mentality that has no limits. The problem is that our planet does have limits.

I opened my store because I want to be a part of a realistic solution for a viable economy and smart Earth stewardship. I want to support sustainable manufacturers and I want to be a place where environmentally conscious people can find things that they can feel good about buying. I truly want my store to be a small example of how our world can be—a world where we can consume while giving back. Really, it can be no other way.

So, I think these rough times are a perfect opportunity to rebuild this country in a viable, sustainable, healthy, and logical way. And it is up to you, the smart consumer, to see that it is done right! I encourage you to continue to be conscientious and I look forward to growing my business to meet the demands of the new green consumer.

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