Sunday, June 03, 2007,8:15 PM
Ethical Consumption

I have spent a very large amount of time this past week surfing the web for sites on ethical consumption. I'm writing a separate piece about the why behind all that, but it has been an interesting adventure. And I've found a lot of really cool sites.

What is ethical consumption you might ask. It starts with me the consumer admitting that while I want to avoid rampant materialism, I am not going to be one of those people who move off the grid and have a zero impact year or something (as my last post explored, for most of us ethical living can't be an all or nothing approach). I will need to buy stuff from time to time. So given that, I want to do so ethically. That means I ask the hard questions - where has this come from? what is its past, present, and future effect on the environment? is it harmful to my physical or psychological health? and were the people who made it treated humanely and paid a fair wage at all stages of the process? It is a lot of stuff to weigh as one makes a purchasing decision and it is a lot harder than the culture of convenience we are used to.

There are many people who think that ethical consumption is not only hard, but that it is impossible economically. That to buy with one's values contradicts the laws of economics. That's why the t-shirt displayed above made me laugh as I stumbled across it this past week. My thoughts - One - do the "laws of economics" really matter in light of environmental chaos and injustice? Are people really so callous to favor economic theory above creation care and human rights? (don't answer that...) and Two - in the law of supply and demand it is the consumer who creates the demand. We demand that we want ethical options (environmentally sustainable, healthy, and fairly traded) and the supply will increase. But it takes us actually doing it, being ethical consumers not just blogging idealists, for that to happen.

One of the cool sites that I discovered this past week that helps make it happen is the New American Dream. They are a great resource site for living ethically. The new dream is to live consciously (feel more alive and aligned with your values), buy wisely (use your power as a consumer to create change) and make a difference (let your actions speak for themselves - then speak up anyways). I'm going to have fun exploring their site and using their resources.

Ways to shop ethically are out there, sometimes it just takes a lot of time and effort to find them. I'm toying with the idea of trying to start a blog or something where people can pool resources about stuff like this. A place to review products, share shopping links, give environmental research updates and other fun stuff. What do you think? Worthwhile? Doable? Wanna help?

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posted by Julie at 8:15 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


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