Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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3 Ways to Up Your Compassionate Shopping Game

If you’re leaving animals off your plate, you’re already living quite the compassionate life — by going vegan, you spare about 95 lives each year, and thousands more over a lifetime! But what if there’s more you can do to live a kind life? Read on for three ways to up your compassionate shopping game.

1. GO ORGANIC: Most people in the U.S. are familiar with the term “organic.” After all, most of our grocery stores offer organic fruits and veggies, and many even have a dedicated aisle of “natural and organic” packaged foods. Not only does buying organic offer you health benefits, it turns out that it’s a compassionate choice for the environment, too! Organic farming practices “reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, use less energy” and are “better for nearby birds and animals, as well as people who live close to farms.”

Above: Who knew you should be checking the labels on what you put in your tote *and* on your tote?  (Pictured: Two Trick Pony’s Pig Pal Jumbo Tote, which is made from 100% certified organic, US-grown cotton)

Here’s what might come as a surprise to you: Did you know that the same can be said for organic cotton farming practices? When you choose organic cotton instead of conventionally grown cotton you:

  • Minimize your impact — Since organic cotton is not grown with toxic chemicals, it doesn’t damage the soil, has less of an impact on air quality and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventionally grown cotton. That’s a big deal when you consider that conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides!
  • Proactively address projected water shortages — In less than ten years, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. That’s distressing to think about, but organic cotton can help! Since it’s 80% rain-fed, it lessens the pressure on local water sources.
  • Do your part for farmers and their families — If you’re like me, you’ve had your fair share of people saying, “But what about people who are suffering?” when confronted with being a voice for animals. Here’s the good thing about compassionate living: It benefits every living being, and organic cotton is no exception! By choosing organic, you’re helping farmers and their families avoid being exposed to toxic chemicals. You’re also helping keep conventional cotton out of our diets since cotton seed oil is used in a variety of food products.

2. SHOP LOCAL (AND SMALL): Shopping local isn’t just for one Saturday in November! When you shop local, you not only keep money in your community (and therefore support local schools and infrastructure), but also protect local land and wildlife, too. Here’s how that works:

“By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. With your support, these farms are able to stay in operation. Because the farms are owned and operated by local farmers and producers, they aren’t being sold to local developers. Local developers could completely transform the land, devastating the wildlife that calls it home. Or, big business producers could buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.”

For those times when you can’t shop local, another good option is to focus on shopping small. One reason I like to shop small is it’s easier to figure out if the vendors I’m supporting are aligned with my values. For instance, when I buy gifts from Lyndsay at The Vegan Potter, I know that she’s committed to producing ethically made pottery and supporting her community through programs such as Clay for a Cause. Same goes for buying tees from Andy at Compassion Co. — I know that he’s just as committed to organic cotton (and eco-friendly production) as I am, so I can shop worry-free.

Above: I love a sassy, savvy, small business, don’t you? (Pictured: Andy Tabar in Still Vegan Compassion Co. t-shirt)

3. MAKE A STATEMENT: Speaking of Compassion Co., my husband, Jake (you might know him as Mr. Pony if you follow me on Instagram), recently wore his favorite Compassion Co. t-shirt to the bank for a quick errand. The woman who helped him with his transaction noticed the vegan message and opened up to him about her struggles with going vegan, especially when it came to swapping some of her go-to foods for more compassionate options. Jake took the conversation as an opportunity to recommend some personal favorites. He also empathized by letting her know that she wasn’t alone in the struggle, and that it gets easier.

Take a note from Jake and add some vegan gear to your wardrobe! Bonus points if it’s made from organic cotton and you buy it from a local vegan company. When your new vegan gear gives you opportunities to talk about your compassionate lifestyle, make the most of those chances by being just that: compassionate!

Nick Coughlin, founder of Compassionate Man, said it well when describing his realization after initially trying to “browbeat compassion” into all of those who are not yet vegan: “My job was not to demolish my detractors, but to gently open windows to a new way of thinking. Every interaction was now an opportunity for me to thoughtfully consider whether my actions would actually help people see animals in a new light or not. If not, it’s best to hold my tongue and look for a better opportunity to make an impact.”

You’re making a huge difference by shopping vegan! Now try sticking to organic goods (both food and apparel), patronizing local businesses, and wearing your vegan heart on your sleeve to make an even greater impact.

Laurie Johnston is the owner of Two Trick Pony, a Massachusetts-based, eco-friendly greetings and goods company. When she’s not screenprinting, Laurie spends time volunteering for Maple Farm Sanctuary and trying to pet as many dogs as she possibly can in one lifetime.



Animal Equality, "Food.", "Organic Foods: What You Need to Know."

GoGreen, "The Environmental Benefits of Buying Locally."