Ethical consumerism


Peace, Love and Unity
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I'm looking to set up a page of resources here on ethical consumerism - effectively, basing consumer choices on ethical considerations, such as not buying products tested on animals, or made in third-world sweatshops, etc, along with resources on companies that have clear ethic concerns built into a social marketing policy (such as Patagonia), etc.

Any resources, links, etc, feel free to post them here for discussion.
Kindest Regards, Brian!

<sarcasm>What, the consumer be responsible for their own choices?</sarcasm>

Actually, I think it is a good idea, but a lot depends on how much genuinely informed input gets provided from interested participants. I never got that involved myself, there is a certain degree of comfort in ignorance. I accept as a rule that if something is processed, it has a horror story behind it, ethical commercial intent or otherwise. Likewise, it is difficult to accept on faith the packaging and labels that claim "organic" or "hormone free" or some such. I kind of accept that, backed into a corner, a business will do what it must to survive.

The only way a person can have any reasonable assurance that what they eat or consume is "ethical," is if they grow and / or make their own. Which, in this day and age, is impractical for the vast majority of us who have to make rent / mortgage and utility payments.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the list you propose must be viewed as relative and subjective, rather than an endorsement for (or indictment against) specific companies. An important consideration right out of my business text, is that a company needs to appear ethical, even if behind the scenes it isn't quite. It is the image the consumer has in their mind about the company that matters. Spread a few bucks around in the right places and promote the appearance of ethics / morality / charity / quality / etc, and what goes on in the back room or the factory really doesn't matter. The consumer buys into an illusion.

Do I sound a little jaded and critical?

Of course, this is but my opinion. Others may well view this whole subject entirely differently, and to that end I hope you get significant contributions from the CR participants.

My first and likely only contribution to the list is:

Homegrown is best.
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I certainly think it's a good point to approach the issue with cynicism - I know mainstream branding has sometimes tried to play the green card for sales purposes, even though there is no real green element to it.

Here's a few interesting resources, especially for those in the UK:

Co-operative bank:
Claims an ethical investment policy.

Smile banking:
Claims an ethical investment policy

Good Energy:
Claims to provide electricity from only renewable sources

Strong environmental protection emphasis in production and application

For starters... :)
I have a few resources but no time at this moment to track them down. (They're buried in lecture notes somewhere.) I'll get back to you on this. I know there is one that is a maquilladora watchdog organization that alerts consumers to corporations and manufacturers that violate human rights- I just have to track down the link.

I'd add... it's very important to carefully consider which companies one invests in for retirement and such. I tell all my students- as Americans we vote with our money as well as in politics. By investing in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible, we give them our support and put pressure on other companies to be so. I'd hate to feel like I was making my retirement off the backs of poor people in the third world...
Lou Dobbs Tonight

the only guy i really like on CNN has ya covered. just dont get him mad or even say two wrong words cause he is loaded with info & facts on global consumer & economic issues.
A good start would be to not set foot in Wal~Mart ever again.

Consider frequenting stores that largely carry organic products, even if not organic stay away from GMO's, irradiated foods and foods treated with human sludge.
I wish I still had my notes from my ethnic studies class from roughly two years ago. We had to do presentations/reports on "ethical companies". I did my report on Peets Coffee (again, I wish I still had my notes.)

Two companies to avoid are Avon and The Body Shop (Avon doesn't treat their employees/suppliers fairly and the less said about The Body Shop, the better.)

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
Many shoes and apparel companies scream out sweatshops in my perception, most notably Nike. Oh and I totally agree about Wal-mart, its no surprise that many illegal immigrants are being caught working there and many many are still working there in my opinion.

Though I believe that its wrong to set up all these sweatshops and pay people much below minimum wage, I can understand where these companies are coming from. Lets say you open a factory in America, you by law have to pay the workers minimum wage to start no matter what the circumstances. Now if I’m paying some Bangladeshi workers $1 a day, which is about 70 takas (Bengali currency), then I can afford to sell my product, lets say Jordan sneakers, for $80-95+ to retailers. But if I’m paying American workers $6 (New York’s minimum wage) or what ever the minimum wage is in other states, then I have to sell the same product for lets say $110-125+, and by the time it reaches retail stores, the price of the sneaker is going to be somewhere around $150-180.

I’m not an economist or a business major, but its quite easy to understand how this process works. The pricing is in no way accurate and was not attended to be, so please pay no attention to it.

I firmly believe that sweatshops are truly inhumane and should be put to a stop, but yet I can understand why they are used. Most costumers also feel the same way but no that prices would become unaffordable without the use of sweatshops.
from a third-world-country point of view: please also bear in mind that these "sweatshops" are sometimes the only places where people with an education level of 6th grade or lower can find decent employment - decent in the sense of not being illegal - to feed their children....

My sister works for a company that supplies to the maquilas and, generally, she can tell which ones really exploit their workers and which ones don't (just last week, she was telling me about a maquila company that just closed, from one day to the next, and, of course, didn't pay the workers for their last 15 days of work... :mad: for example)...while there are others that, while they pay minimum wage in El Salvador (and minimum wage might seem like slave pay to someone in the US or Europe), but provide food subsidies and free transportation for their not believe everything you ES, for example, we are still very politicized (sp?) and some sectors would love to see foreign investment go elsewhere....
miclason said:
My sister works for a company that supplies to the maquilas and, generally, she can tell which ones really exploit their workers and which ones don't (just last week, she was telling me about a maquila company that just closed, from one day to the next, and, of course, didn't pay the workers for their last 15 days of work... :mad: for example)...

Qué?! :eek: *looks for former owners of maquila, rolling up sleeves and thinking of ways to make them pay all of the former employees ['Here she comes. There she is. Don't look at them.']:mad:*

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine