Putting the pressure on
It’s not just the links between the product and its impact that ethical consumers need to consider, but the activities of the company behind the brand. A small number of multinational companies own a large proportion of our favourite brands. Many of these companies are involved in a range of unethical activities. By withdrawing our custom from these companies, we can let them know that we don’t approve of their activities – especially if, at the same time, we let them know WHY we’re withdrawing our custom.
Our local shops are in decline, and our main streets are becoming a sea of chain stores and supermarkets. Shopping locally can reduce car use and support local communities too. You might find it harder to find more ethical brands – but many shop owners are responsive to requests and you might find that you can persuade them to stock your favourite ethical products.
Recycling and second-hand
Shopping ethically isn’t the only way we can help ourselves live better. We can also reduce the amount of stuff that we buy, use and throw away. Before you go shopping ask yourself a few simple questions: Do I need this? Will I use this? What’s going to happen to it when I’ve finished with it? You don’t always have to buy new. Recycled and second-hand products save precious resources and reduce pressure on landfill sites.
Ethical consumer guide
Every time you shop you have an impact on the planet and its people. Shopping ethically includes a bit about the philosophy behind what we do and some background to the main issues that we look at. This guide gives you some guidance and explains the different ways that you can make a difference when you go shopping.
What is ethical consumerism?
Ethical Consumerism means adopting a different perspective on our disposable income. Instead of seeing money as a means to buy us status, luxury goods or an improved quality of life, we also need to consider our money as a vote which we make every time we go shopping. Even small, everyday purchases, such as coffee, tea, breakfast cereal, bread or bin-bags are a vote for something.
Favouring Organic produce is a vote for environmental sustainability and Fairtrade, a vote for human rights.
This means favouring particular ethical products. Obviously, we all know that the price is important when we go shopping, but it's important to start taking other factors into account when you buy things. Sometimes the choices aren’t always straightforward, for example, is it better to buy organic vegetables flown in from overseas, or non-organic vegetables from a local farmer? In these cases, it’s often a matter of deciding which is more important for your needs.