What Does Ethical Consumption Mean and How to Apply It to Your Daily Routine

June 5, 2019 3:32 am

Ethical consumption represents making a connection between a product, its origin, and the context in which it has been produced. It requires you to think before you make a purchase, to consider how your lifestyle influences other people and communities, as well as the environment. Being ethically informed means the consumer understands that when they buy something, they are not simply spending their money on a product, but also impacting the world around them.

Ethical consumption does not mean you have to deprive yourself or certain pleasures and conveniences, nor is it a competition to see who has the most righteous shopping list. It actually means that you recognize the power you hold, as a consumer of goods and services, in influencing companies and industries to be more sustainable, ethical and accountable. So, if you want to start shopping more ethically, here are some ways you could implement this practice into your daily routine:

Define what ethical means to you

‘Ethical’ is a very broad term which includes many different elements, from the sourcing and manufacturing processes to the working conditions and the impact on local communities, as well as ensuring minimal impact on the environment. Considering the number of things this term encompasses, it is inevitable that different aspects are going to resonate with certain people more than others.  For example, one person might only decide to buy cruelty-free and vegan products, while another one might think that working conditions are more important. So, do some reading and research to understand what ethical means to you, and what exactly you are looking for in a brand or a business.

Opt for high-quality pieces

Shopping ethically also means shopping less, not just for yourself, but for the whole family. This doesn’t necessarily mean your wardrobe is going to be depleted – you simply have to be a bit smarter with your purchases. Focusing on quality instead of quantity, and buying items that will last a lifetime, rather than just one season is always the best option. Even when shopping for your little ones, try to find a high-quality and trusted brand which offers a great kids clothes sale and ensure your children have enough quality clothing items that will last throughout their growing stage, after which you could do the ethical thing and donate them to someone in need.

Invest in your local community

Even though you can often find interesting and unique products when shopping with independent local retailers, the fact that these businesses are more likely to have localized supply chains is perhaps even more important. This can help create virtuous monetary circles as those companies buy what they need, such as printing or accountant services from other local businesses, which helps keep more money in local communities and stops it from flowing out to big, hazardous corporations.

Get creative before you recycle

Instead of throwing all of your used, worn and broken items away, the most sustainable and ethical thing to do is to give fixing, reusing and upcycling a try. Oftentimes, there are many things that could be done with old gear before you send it to recycling, or even worse, to the dreaded landfill. Whether it’s learning how to fix your mobile phone by yourself and extend its life or creating a fun fashion item from an old pair of jeans, thousands or people around the world are starting projects to help people make the most of what they already have and minimize their environmental impact.

Look for trusted labels

The easiest way to ensure what you are buying is truly ethical is to look for trusted labels and certification on the packaging. While there are lots of labels out there, some are more trustworthy and rigorous than others, as they offer real protection to workers, animals and the environment. So, next time you go shopping, pay attention to brands which are independently certified by the strongest labels, such as Organic (by the Social Association), Fairtrade (by the Fairtrade foundation), Vegan (by the Vegan Society) and Cruelty Free (by Cruelty Free International).

Even though it is often very easy to disassociate ourselves from the effect businesses and industries have on the world, shopping ethically often makes us feel satisfied and empowered, because we know that the small change we are making is a vote that could lead to big social and environmental impacts.

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