Blog Post, Member Story

Can your purchases change the world? In a word, yes!

November 21, 2022

Three people preparing food as part of LITE's catering social enterprise
Three people preparing food as part of LITE’s catering social enterprise.

How do you define the value you get through the purchasing choices you make? We usually think of price, quality, convenience, and perhaps a brand we want to identify with. But what if there is more at stake with each purchase?

If you knew that each choice could change someone’s life, or strengthen your community, how would that influence your decisions? I’ll show you what I mean, by telling you a story, and introducing you to an opportunity to maximize value through purchasing.

As a young kid, I remember standing in the middle of my small-town general store holding a dollar bill in my hand. Yes, I know that dates me to another era, but what struck me at the time was the realization that this small piece of paper provided me an opportunity, and a choice.

No, my mind didn’t turn to social finance and supporting the local co-operative movement with a sustainable fair trade choice. As a kid in a rural town, there was really only one local business. My options were basically limited to whether it would be a package containing a chalky, brittle piece of pink gum that happened to include hockey cards, or some other fun treats I’d seen my classmates with. Being new to Canada, both seemed to be part of the ‘cool kid’ culture, so this decision wasn’t an easy one.

As a tween, being able to earn a few more dollars mowing lawns for a handful of senior neighbours expanded my options, both in variety and volume. Now, my maturing thought process started to include a number of considerations: buying something for my brother as well, which I’m sure I didn’t do as often as I should have, or saving up for something even more important like a record (again, dating myself) from a nearby town that had more shops.

I was beginning to understand the power of purchasing. However, at this point I thought the power was purely about how it impacted me, and perhaps my family who would inevitably be subjected to the music I chose. At the same time, I was beginning to appreciate my parents’ commitment to various humanitarian causes. They dedicated their time and resources to building community, as you may recall from my first blog on Finding My Purpose. From their role modeling, I was coming to understand that money was for living, but also for giving to those with less.

But it wasn’t until I learned the story of LITE that my own experiences, my parents’ example, and my quickly forming personal values came together. Everyone is familiar with the concept of giving food to people who don’t have enough to eat. Simple to understand, and easy to do. It is kindness in action. But while this gift of food is essential in the moment, does it change the reason someone needed food in the first place? Or could the gift of food be provided in a way that supports solutions to poverty rather than simply easing its pain?

Continue reading about how LITE changed the way I understood CED and the power of purchasing.

Brendan Reimer

Brendan Reimer is a CCEDNet member (and former staffer!) who now serves as Strategic Partner, Values-Based Banking at Assiniboine Credit Union.

brendan raimer