What does Ethical Consumerism mean?
So we’re constantly being bombarded with this idea of being an ethical consumer, with news reports and people telling us where to shop and where not to. But I wanted to find out what it really means to be an ethical consumer, what is ‘ethical’ and why do people even want to be ‘ethical consumers’?
Globalisation is the process of the world becoming increasingly interconnected, especially through trade and business, making everything more ‘international’. This is what made people start to question their consumer habits, as we start to think “Where do my clothes really come from?” where majority of the time the things we buy come from someone somewhere abroad.
“Natural Resources and Ethical Trade Programme (NRET) defines ethical trade as any form of trade that consciously seeks to be socially and environmentally, as well as economically, responsible”
In order for us be to be sure that the source of our products are socially, environmentally and economically responsible – this means ruling out any unfair, harsh or unsustainable treatment of humans, animals, the environment. Therefore, this is the aim of being an ethical consumer, reducing the buying of products that have caused harm to either of these sectors.
So what can I do?
Types of Ethical Purchasing:
Negative Ethical Purchasing
Positive Ethical Purchasing
Company Based Purchasing
- Negative Ethical Purchasing is the process where you AVOID particular products that are unethically sources. For example; products made in sweatshops, using child labour, aminal testing, or where the environment has been negatively impacted. What this does is it stops there being a demand for that product so companies are forced to stop producing them.
- Positive Ethical Purchasing is where we specifically SEEK products that are ethically sourced and buy them specifically. For example, we may only go out and buy Fairtrade, Certified Sustainable, Organic and Animal Free products. This will increase the demand and the attractiveness of products so large organisations will stock more of these and the producers in third-world countries get more pay.
- Company Based Purchasing is the TOTAL avoidance or acceptance of companies that are known to be ethical or unethical. This is called Boycotting, where people and the media try and put people off from buying from a whole company generally because of shady or unethical things they have done in the past…like Amazon.
Labels to look out for:
- B corporation
- Co-op Marque
- Dolphin safe
- EKOenergy for electricity agreements
- Equal Exchange
- Ethical Consumer Best Buy label
- Free-range poultry
- FSC-certified sustainably sourced wood
- Grass fed beef
- Green America Seal of Approval
- Halal (religious standard)
- Kosher (religious standard)
- Local food
- Made in USA
- MSC-certified sustainably sourced seafood
- No Pork No Lard (semi-religious standard)
- Organic food
- Organic Trade Association
- Product Red
- Rainforest Alliance certified
- Respects Your Freedom
- Shade-grown coffee
- Social Accountability 8000