Hey, wanna help me build the new economy?

It sounds ambitious, but a shift is taking place—and needs to take place.

Maybe the cure for the economy's woes isn't more consumer spending like economists keep saying, but more thoughtful consumer spending.

Like buying things from the folks who produce them, rather than stuff that's been shipped across the ocean a few times on its way to market.

Or buying things that last longer, and repairing them rather than chucking them once they're broken.

Or just buying fewer things.

It may not get the economy back where to it was, but was that really such a good place to be?

I'm a recently recovering Target-aholic myself, so I know the traps and the lure of low prices. After watching the video The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard a few years ago, I went cold turkey off of Target's $1.00 aisle. That was a start.

Around the same time, my sister Debi introduced our family to The Better World Shopping Guide, a little gem of a book that lists products and companies by category, and gives each one a letter grade based on their level of social and environmental responsibility. That precipitated more changes in our purchasing habits.

Little by little I'm making more conscious decisions about whom to give my money to, from grocers to banks. Do they share my values? Are they part of the problem, or part of the solution? Are they really worthy of my hard-earned cash?

We consumers have much more power than we think, and it's in our wallets. Let's use it thoughtfully and with intention, especially during this holiday shopping season.

Annie Leonard on The Colbert Report, 2010