The Ethical Consumer

Most consumers in first world countries have the choices to become ethical consumers. We can all make informed choices of what we chose to buy and which companies to boycott. In 2009 it was estimated that 40% of American consumers purchased goods because of the ethics, values and reputation of the company that produced it. This trend has been on the rise of late, especially now that we have access to information at the tips of our fingers. So this blog post is dedicated to giving you guys a jumping off point into the world of ethical consumption.

Websites like Shop Ethical do all the work for you. They research and collate social and environmental data from companies to allow consumers to “shop with a clear conscience”. Divided into categories, Shop Ethical contains the information to make the right decisions when consuming products. From homeware and appliances to the latest fashion brands, the website gives its own ranking for each company under the category. They look at human rights breaches in the supply chain of companies, the environmental responsibility of the companies, the ethics of their waste management and the transparency of their reporting.

Most importantly, Shop Ethical allows you to find issue close to home e.g. animal rights, and make them a priority when you shop. This means it is easier than ever to support the causes you think are important. This also helps as a slow introduction to sustainable consumerism, by giving you a clear path on how to avoid unethical brands.

Another website is Behind the Barcode. This website concentrates on directing users to the most ethical fashion and electronic brands. They consider human rights, sweatshops, worker exploitation as well as sustainable materials in clothes and dyes. Their Ethical Electronics Guide is available should you wish to make a well informed decision on what the next gadget to buy next is. It helps consumers narrow down from the plethora of companies available and choose one which supports fair work and trade and has transparent reporting.

Behind the Barcode also allows you to participate in a variety of non-profit and charity work. This is a suitable starting point for an ethical consumer as it contains a lot of information about companies presented in an easy manner for you. So you don’t have to do much work to realise who are the big bad guys in the ethical fashion world. In addition, there are plenty of causes on the website to dedicate your time to should you wish to pursue sustainable consumerism further.




Picture: Emily Orpin via Flickr


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