Ethical shopping is an empowering and exciting concept. It operates on the principle that spending money is like voting. So, if you buy cage eggs, you’re voting for animal cruelty. If you buy certain brands of clothing, you’re voting for sweatshop labour. And if you buy a gas-guzzling car, you’re a fan of global warming.
The idea of “ethical consumerism” or “conscious consuming” is a social movement based around the idea that people should be mindful of the impact their purchases have on the environment and the health and well being of the people involved in making those products.
Consumers are now looking at ethics when they buy. It goes with the territory of being more careful where they spend their money in a tight economy. “Following a period when conspicuous consumption was both socially acceptable and economically feasible, consumer behaviour is likely to become more “conscious,” spurring a trend toward ethical consumption. The movement advocates abandoning the relentless and fruitless drive to find satisfaction in endless consumption. Shoppers are starting to care about where their products come from, how they were made and how they impact the planet, says Peita Gardiman, who has launched Ethikl.com.au, the first Australian trading website for eco-friendly and people-friendly products made using natural, organic, or recycled materials. The online marketplace also allows consumers to communicate directly with sellers, many of whom hand-make the products themselves. We live in a time of human rights abuse, animal cruelty, genetically modified foods and the massive impact of industry on the environment. These can often seem beyond our control and quite removed from our everyday life. However, the fact is that every time we buy something, our spending dollar endorses a company and its activities, whether we are aware of it or not – whether we like it or not.
It is the responsibility of consumers to support the environment and rights of workers who produce goods for them. More than the government and green companies, it is the responsibility of consumers to realise their role in creating real change. Money makes the world go round, and deciding how we spend our money might just help save it.