Ethical Consumerism

Posted by Krystle On 9/29/2009
For those of you that are new to the idea of ethical consumerism, allow me to present:

The Newbie Guide to Ethical Consumerism

Definition:

Ethical Consumerism: is the intentional purchase of products and services that the customer considers to be made ethically.

An Example:

Let's say that we have two shoe companies: Nikey and Brand Green. (Subtle, aren't I?) You've heard that Nikey uses sweatshops and sometimes abuses their factory workers. Also, since their products are made overseas, there is a lot of fuel and resources used in shipping the shoes to the store where you might want to buy them. This has a negative effect on the environment. Furthermore, Nikey shoes are made out of leather and you may or may not find this acceptable depending on your views of animal rights.

Brand Green on the other hand, makes and assembles their shoes in Canadian and American factories and pays their workers fair wages. They also make their shoes out of man-made post-consumer recycled materials.

Ethical consumerism means two main things:

  1. Finding out what a company's practices are before buying one of their products.
  2. Buying only from company's whose practices you agree with. (This might be different for every person.)
This is an oversimplified example and things are rarely even this straightforward. Usually finding out information about things like a company's real labour practices and environmental policies is very hard, and often the cost of ethical goods can be a significant difference making it hard for people on lower incomes to afford. Most importantly, companies rarely fall into categories of good and evil, like the scenario I painted above. But don't give up! That's why brandaware.org is here, to help you navigate this complicated process and become an informed, active citizen.

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