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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Brittany B.

As exciting as it is to find a coupon for a product I love, I would be lying if I said that coupons are at the forefront of my mind when I make purchasing decisions. I consider myself to be an ethical shopper in a world where most coupons reflect the uniformed purchasing decisions of the majority of the population. We clean with products that are harmful to our lungs and the environment, we eat products that contribute to our declining health, and we support billion dollar companies with political agendas that we know nothing about. Committing to only buy from ethical companies that choose to make products that are healthy, sustainable, and cruelty-free often means spending a little more money. Unfortunately, it also means that coupons for products made by those companies aren’t always easy to come by.

Like most aspects of my life, my shopping routine is rigidly planned and organized. Each week, I create a meal plan and two corresponding grocery lists. The first list is for fresh produce, which I buy at my local farmer’s market. The second list is for miscellaneous grocery products, which I typically buy from my local grocery store. I’m enrolled in the digital coupon program at that grocery store which sometimes yields coupons for products that I normally buy. Before heading to the grocery store, I browse the online coupon selection for the week. I also have a subscription to the Sunday paper, which I browse each week for coupons. Occasionally, the products that I buy come with coupons attached to the inside of the packaging. Each week, I gather all of my coupons and mark with a highlighter all of the products on my list for which I have coupons. My point is that my routine definitely allows for couponing. In fact, it has been my experience that a highly organized grocery routine often allows for many money-saving opportunities, including using as many coupons as possible before they expire. However, even though I try to utilize all available coupon resources, I often don’t find many coupons for the products that I typically buy.

A note from us at I’m In:  We offer lots of ways for you to save on groceries at I’m In!

So exactly what are those products? Although I may be in the minority, my purchasing decisions are influenced by the availability of products that are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, healthy for myself and for the planet, and made by companies with ethics that are similar to mine. For example, after California’s Proposition 37, which would have required all genetically-modified food to be labeled as such, didn’t pass in the 2012 elections, I stopped buying products from companies that spent billions of dollars lobbying to defeat the initiative. I firmly believe that each time we spend a dollar, we vote for the types of products that we want to see in the aisles of grocery stores. In my case, that means products that are manufactured and packaged responsibly and that aren’t filled with questionable chemicals and preservatives.

My ultimate hope is that shoppers like me start to become the majority. As more and more people become informed about the effect that the choices they make have on their health and the planet, the demand for organic grocery stores will increase and more will be built. As more and more people come to the realization that paying for high-quality, healthy foods is a worthy investment, companies will make the decision to offer products that cater to consumers who are more informed and willing to buy healthy and honestly labeled products. If this continues, then coupons for those products I mentioned before will begin to be considered the norm for the typical shopper. It is then and only then that I will definitively be able to say that coupons influence my purchasing decisions. Until then, I’m content with spending a little more money for the products that offer me a lot more peace of mind about the state of my health and our planet.

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