Have you ever gotten hold of a dollar bill with a url stamped on it in red ink?: wheresgeorge.com
“Where’s George” allows you to see where your dollar bill has been and where it heads off to after you spend it. The other day I got a dollar bill with the red stamp on it and I logged it in today to see where it came from. According to the website my dollar was in St. Louis, Missouri about a year ago. How exciting! I haven’t even been to Missouri and my dollar bill has!
It’s actually really fascinating to think about the flow of money: how people spend their money and who it actually ends up benefiting. Last semester my politics and government professor put it this way, you can tell what people care about based on what they spend time and money on. So following the path that money takes can actually tell you quite a bit about what is important to people.
On the other end of that exchange, you might consider where the money is actually going. And this is part of the reason I think sustainable tourism is so exciting. A lot of the time we don’t consider where our money is going–we just spend it. Many times we don’t research the charities we give to or the businesses we frequent, and the money that we give to them can be used in ways that we are uncomfortable with.
With tourism, much of the time, money that you spend when you travel goes to large companies who are not taking steps to employ local people. So when you travel to places in the Caribbean and see poverty all around you, but you know that people are spending their time and money there, something is off. I could talk forever about responsible tourism, but the main idea is…where you spend your money and where it actually goes is critical.
I think “Where’s George” can be an important, fun and exciting way for people to take some stock in how far money can travel and who it can benefit.
Where’s the dollar bill in your wallet been?