Category Archives: Ethical Electronics

LENT – 14 Days of Ethical Lent

It’s that time of year again where people give up things they know are bad for them like smoking, too much chocolate, TV series etc. But a great idea for lent which doesn’t involve you actually giving up anything, just involves changing a few things around, is to use more sustainable products.

One of the important things about being an ethical consumer is actually acting on your beliefs and doing small things to give yourself the internal rewards you deserve. Simply giving up or changing one thing you use that YOU KNOW has been sourced unethically or tested on animals will bring you one step closer to being a more conscious consumer. Who doesn’t want to know they’re helping the environment, even if it’s through recycling??

STEP 1: Stop using one of your unethical products for the next two weeks

STEP 2: Purchase literally just ONE ethical product, even just soap or body wash

STEP 3: See if you like it and if you do CONTINUE TO USE IT.

Buying ethical products that are fairtrade and organic are SO MUCH better for the environment and the workers who really rely on that tiny bit extra you pay to give them a fair wage. So just start with one product and then see where it takes you!!

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Sabrina & Medisa

Why do I still buy unethical products??

The trending shift toward being more ethically conscious; of our clothes, the environment, and human rights, have triggered many heated debates about things we should and shouldn’t do/buy. Though most of us will agree that hurting people is bad, and we need to protect the planet, it seems that our attitudes and behaviour don’t match up a lot of the time.

Being an ethical consumer is a difficult thing to define these days, is it not buying bad products or buying the good products, is it being vegan, or buying fair trade??? I can imagine how daunting the thought of being more ethical can cause people to completely block these out as it’s sometimes too much guilt to think about the consequences of every purchase.

BUT IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM – WE JUST NEED TO TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME.

Research by Hurtado (1998) has shown the most common reasons that we don’t buy ethical products even though our values tell us it is something we should do.

  1. They don’t understand all the labels and there just isn’t enough information about what makes the product ‘ethical’.
  2. The ethical product is more expensive than the one you would normally buy.
  3. There aren’t enough environmentally friendly products on the market.
  4. People just don’t believe they can make a difference as one sole person making an ethical purchase.

STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF – IF ONE PERSON COULDN’T CHANGE THE WORLD THEN WHO ARE; ROSA PARKS, MARTIN LUTHER KING, MAHATMA GANDI, MUHAMMED ALI??

All the information you need:

  • Fairtrade

Basically fairtrade products are imported normally from communities of farmers and workers in less economically developed countries. The principles of fairtrade allow workers to receive a fair STANDARD rate for their products, so regardless of the economic climate, they will still get paid what they deserve. On top of this, the PREMIUM you are paying goes towards a community fund that allows the communities to invest in health care, living and education! So the more fairtrade products we invest in, the more companies that will store them, and the more rights workers get in developing countries. So rather than putting money in this man’s pocket (CEO of TESCO), we should buy just one fairtrade product to help these people.

  • Environmentally friendly products:

Global Warming is killing our planet, and this is mainly due to the amount of waste that is being produced and burnt, along with excess energy consumption and industrial waste releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have 31% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than in the 1800’s. Here are some statistics on global warming:

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What can we do? We can be more aware of our consumption habits INDIVIDUALLY.

“THE ULTIMATE TEST OF MAN’S CONSCIENCE MAY BE HIS WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE SOMETHING TODAY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS WHOSE WORDS OF THANKS WILL NOT BE HEARD” – GAYLORD NELSON

  • Fashion Shopping:

A lot of companies have been in the limelight for poor ethics in regards to their workers, for example H&M and NIKE with the use of their sweatshops. This means they normally employ really young or poor people and get them to do grueling cheap labor for less than a fair price, and then these products are sold for A HELL OF A LOT MORE to the regular consumer abroad. It means the companies profit shoots up while the workers still live in poverty – THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

What can you do?2697297072_a493322631_o

You can also start by helping the environment through fashion by buying from companies who recycle their clothes and also use ORGANIC materials which are not man-made as this adds to the pollution causing global warming.

Remember there are three types of ethical consumers TAKE ONE STEP, MAKE ONE CHANGE, AND CHOOSE ONE ACTION – TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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Sabrina x

Quick Guide to Ethical Consumerism

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:

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Negative Ethical Purchasing

Positive Ethical Purchasing

Company Based Purchasing

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

Suicides in Apple’s Production Factory.

Three years ago, whilst completing my Business A-Levels, I came across a story that completely changed my mind on ethical consumerism; the working conditions at the Chinese company, Foxconn. I cannot say that it was my first encounter with an article that called for a change, but usually, these articles are related to animal rights and environmental impacts. Now, I would like to assure the readers that I am in no way claiming that these factors are not highly important or are in any form less important than human rights. As you may see, our blog does not only fight for human rights but also calls for a change when it comes to products that harm animals and the environment. However, the reason behind the extreme shock was probably due to the fact that I could empathise more with those within my own species.

As an 18 year old, I could not fathom the stress and the pressure that one must feel in a working place for it to drive them to suicide. According to a report in 2011, Foxconn had been treating their workers “inhumanely, like machines” (Chamberlain, 2tl201009-foxconn56011). Workers claimed to have been forced to work for 100 hours of overtime in addition to their average of 44 hours each week. Furthermore, if they were suspected of bad performance, they could be humiliated in front of the rest of the employees. After many incidents of suicide, where employees had begun to throw themselves off the roof or from the windows, the rest of the employees were made to sign papers asserting that they would never take their own lives. In addition to the statements, nets were attached around the building to prevent those who attempt suicide, from actually dying. The big question is, instead of making them promise not to kill themselves, why don’t t
hey improve conditions so that workers would not want to commit suicide?

Nets were attached around the building to prevent those
who attempt suicide, from actually dying.

What I find even more surprising is the fact that the publication of these reports had no effect on the sales of the products produced by this company, such as iPhones and iPads. These reports not only came out in 2011, but were also revived in 2014, when reporters went undercover and pretended to work as employees (France-Presse, 2014). They evidence showed that the promises made in 2011 to improve workers’ situations had been broken on multiple levels; long working hours, horrible living condition and juvenile workers. However, Apple denied the charges claiming that, “We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.” Apple claimed that they were working to the best of their capabilities to put an end to this and after the suicide reports in 2010, they even published a set of principles that they asked the factories to abide by in regards to the treatment of the employees. However, undercover reporters in 2014, found that most of these rules and standards were breached within the walls of the factories.

“We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.”

Nonetheless, as pointed out previously, these reports seem to have had absolutely no effect on the way people perceive or consume Apple products. It would also be fair to point out that Foxconn, does not only produce Apple products but its production also has links with Samsung and Nokia phones as well (Kan, 2012). This could be one of the main reasons as to why sales have not dropped. You could be thinking, “Yeah, well if all the phone companies are related and work with Foxconn, then I don’t really have any choice. Therefore, I should not feel bad about my consumer habits, since I am being forced”.

Fortunately, this is not true at all. Yes, it may be impossible to find any large company that 100% follows the ethical guideline. However, there are mobile companies that are much more ethical than Apple, Samsung and Nokia. They may not have the exact features as these smartphones do, but, I think I speak for a large number of people when I say that another human being’s life is much more valuable than Siri’s. Below is a link to The Good Shopping Guide website where they have compared and contrasted over 10 phone companies. They have provided us with a very detailed ethical table, ranking all the companies in an ethical order, based on different activities such as human rights, political donations, etc. The table shows Fairphone to be one of the most ethical phone companies, and unsurprisingly rates Apple and Samsung as one of the least ethical companies.

Producers of Fairphone had stated that they were aware of the hardships of creating an ethical smartphone when only two of the minerals found – tin and tantalum – are derived from validated mines. However, they have now succeeded and their product is made of aluminum and recycled plastic, which not only makes it ethical but sustainable as well. In addition, they are produced in a factory that ensures health and safety working conditions, as well as decent wages to its workers. Furthermore, they have the amazing feature of being built to be repairable. There is an app available that provides how-to guides for users to be able repair and replace parts. Therefore, if you thought that amazing smartphones and ethics were mutually exclusively, you should think again.

In conclusion, if you were part of the group that was aware of the issues at Foxconn and believed that there was no alternative, you can now go and have a look at this detailed ranking table and hopefully take an action. Some of you may think that your individual shopping habits cannot have any impact on companies, however this is completely untrue. If you begin taking steps, such as buying phones from companies that are ethical and/or spreading the message, soon enough, sales may begin to drop and companies, such as Apple, will be forced to take serious actions in regards to the troublesome conditions at Foxconn.

The Good Shopping Guide: http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/ethical-mobile-phones/

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Medis M

References

Chamberlain, G. (2011, April 30). Apple’s Chinese workers treated ‘inhumanely, like machines’. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from The guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/apr/30/apple-chinese-workers-treated-inhumanely
France-Presse, A. (2014, December 19). Apple under fire again for working conditions at Chinese factories. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from The guardian : https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/19/apple-under-fire-again-for-working-conditions-at-chinese-factories
Kan, M. (2012, October 24). Foxconn builds products for many vendors, but its mud sticks to Apple. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from computerworld: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2492795/it-careers/foxconn-builds-products-for-many-vendors–but-its-mud-sticks-to-apple.html

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