What is a dollar vote?
Many people may consciously or unconsciously practice “dollar voting” but may not be aware of the term used.
Dollar voting is a practice in which we carefully consider the consequences of buying a product or service we purchase and its impact on the environment.
One way we could do that is by calculating our carbon footprint. You can go here to calculate your carbon footprint.
An interesting fact about dollar voting is that you are most likely already voting with your dollars.
Don’t we spend our money on brands which we think offers us the best value over brands which don’t?
But does dollar voting really work?
Can we really make an impact with our choices as consumer?
Let’s find out.
How does dollar voting work?
Businesses make products or provide services based on consumer demand.
If Apple comes out with the latest iPhone and it’s in high demand, then Apple will increase supply to meet that need.
On the other hand, if demand for the newest iPhone is low, then there will be a decrease in supply.
So the market shifts according to consumer demand, which unbeknown to the consumer, actually gives them a lot of power and influence.
Let’s take a political election as an example.
A single vote can sway an entire election in deciding who will be the next president of the United States.
The implications of such a decision are huge and can decide the direction an entire country moves in.
So, a single vote holds power.
Now, it’s good to remember that there’s more to it than that and that there’s power in numbers, but dollar voting all begins with individuals making a conscious decision on any matter that is at hand.
A vote with your dollar can take place in various situations.
- Do you boycott a company because its products aren’t fair-trade or do you continue to buy from them anyway?
- Could your decision to steer clear of non fair-trade products influence that company to take into consideration its practices?
- Or could your decision not to buy from that particular brand encourage other people to purchase from companies that practice fair-trade instead?
Corporations would like us to believe that they are all powerful and are the deciding factor in what we want and don’t want.
The truth is, they can be rather powerful.
If U.S. retailer Walmart were a country, it would be ranked by GDP as 24th in the world with revenue of $486 billion, beating out Belgium with a GDP of $468 billion.
That’s an incredible amount of power to have, but are corporations really that powerful without the support of the consumer?
Corporations may have the power to influence and entice us to buy their products but we, the consumers, have the ultimate power to make an informed decision on what we would like to do with our money – thus, voting with our dollars.
This simple decision, can either help a company grow or possibly even run out of business and you the consumer, has done exactly that in the past.
Take the case of Enron Corporation, which had revenues upwards of $101 billion in 2000, making it the 64th largest economy in the world.
Due to the ‘Enron scandal’ they have since gone bankrupt due to accounting fraud.
As the scandal unfolded, share prices dropped so dramatically that Enron went from the one of the most powerful corporations to being bankrupt.
Can you fight climate change with dollar voting?
A question worth delving into is “can climate change be combatted through dollar voting?”.
It might sound like this idea is too idealistic but it is definitely possible.
In the US, the main source of energy distribution is the US energy grid, which is a network of thousands of interconnecting distribution centres, power plants and distribution lines that provide electricity to consumers.
Here is a short video for you to understand better what is it:
The energy grid dates back to the time of Edison when he unveiled the US’s first power plant which initially only had a handful of customers but has now expanded and the energy grid reaches hundreds of millions of consumers.
Electricity is transferred over long distances to substations which then turn the high voltage power to lower voltage electricity that can be supplied to homes and businesses.
The vast majority of this energy is created through fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which is a non-renewable source of energy and causes a significant amount of harm to the Earth.
This means there are thousands of power plants around the US contributing to the energy grid but at the same time, they are causing climate change.
Consumers can fight against climate change by switching to a green energy provider.
If we as conscious consumers, use the idea of dollar voting and vote with our dollars, many coal power plants would be forced to shut down due to lack of demand and according to Bloomberg, this is already taking place.
If this trend continues, more energy providers will switch to providing clean energy due to growing demand.
Ways to fight against climate change with your dollar vote
A few ways you can fight against climate change with dollar voting are as follows:
- Switch to a green energy provider: This could potentially force many coal plants to close down. We could potentially take over the energy grid so that utility companies are forced to provide only green energy!
- Switch to companies that are sustainable: There are many companies that are succeeding at being sustainable in many different areas, including energy use, carbon, waste and clean air production. You can see a list of these companies here.
- Buy food from local markets instead of big chain supermarkets: An incredible amount of energy is wasted transporting food over thousands of miles around the country. By shopping local you are saving the planet and supporting local businesses at the same time.
- Buy LED bulbs: LED’s are 90% more efficient than halogen bulbs because they only release 10% of their energy as heat compared to conventional light bulbs.
- Boycott unethical brands: You could think about practicing consumer activism by using your consumer power to show companies that better standards are expected. One way of doing this is by choosing ethical brands that are transparent in their practices.
We all have the power to make an influence based on what we choose to invest in and so, we are all responsible in some way or another for what is going on around us, including the environment.
We can use the power of dollar voting to force companies and brands to come up with more sustainable products and services as well as even forcing them to become more green and environmentally conscious.
If more of us source our energy from green utility companies, then the market would have no option but to produce electricity from clean sources of energy.
Your power as a consumer is not to be underestimated.
Through the internet and most social media channels, we as consumers have the opportunity to start a revolution, and it’s not the first time that major companies have had to bow down to the pressures placed on them by consumers standing for what they believe in.
Please feel free to share your opinion on how we could get more people involved in this revolution and make our energy grid green.