There is so much to be written on the topic of conscious consumerism, and in my Part 1 post, I touched on why I am really trying to support small business with my purchasing power. I could go in 10 different directions for Part 2, but I wanted to focus (or try and focus with my squirrel like attention span) on ethical shopping.
These days, it seems like money makes the world go round. We work hard to earn it, we buy things we need (and don't need) with it, it causes wars, it can make beautiful changes in the world, it can transform lives for better and for worse. Now, you might not think that your dollars hold that much power, I mean who are you, Jeff Bezos?! But here's what I think- companies spend a lot of time, energy, and their money to capture our money. They know that if the masses can be swayed to purchase their products, the bank accounts go cha-ching! And just like our money is making companies like Amazon, Nike, Nestle, Apple, etc. grow to epic proportions, that means we also have the collective power to spend our money with businesses who are honest and transparent about their company practices, and who are working hard to make the world a better place as well as make money. (Cue song 'The Power' by Snap!) Naturally, we want what is fastest, convenient, and cheapest, but these consumer demands have led companies to, pardon my French, run businesses like assholes.
The downside for us as the consumer? We have to do extra work on our part to make sure where we spend is reflecting the kind of world we want to live in. From sweatshop, child, and slave labor, to harming the environment, to dishonest marketing tactics to mistreatment of employees, there's a lot the consumer has to think about before purchasing from a business. Too bad websites don't come with an ethics ranking on the homepage! Here is a list of 5 of the most unethical companies, according to ethicanconsumer.org:
If you want to know more details about some of the companies on this list, click here
. Another note: a couple of these companies own a ton of brands underneath them- it's definitely worth researching who the brands are affiliated with!
So what's a worried consumer to do? You're going to have to roll up your sleeves and do some internet research. Personally, I have been trying my best not to purchase from Amazon. It's damn near freaking impossible, especially for purchasing supplies for my business, but I have to celebrate the small win of at least greatly reducing my purchases from them on a personal level. I have found a couple helpful resources: Ethical Consumer and for fashion, Good On You (they have an app as well)! While this isn't necessarily an airtight method, usually searching for smaller brands or marketplaces might result in better options as far as ethical shopping goes. As always, I recommend buying second hand whenever possible, searching on Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, resale apps, and buying local. For grocery and some household items, I really like Thrive Market. I am also a fan of Earth Hero for eco friendly items from clothing, to cleaning, to pets.
Like I said earlier, sometimes it is nearly impossible to not make an Amazon purchase, as they have eaten up so much of the market. I spent hours trying to find all the items I needed to make candles and body products from numerous websites, and it was exhausting and stressful trying to price things out, and sometimes I couldn't even find the items I wanted. As with anything to do with mindfulness and sustainability, I recommend starting small! Maybe pick one unethical company to avoid purchasing from and look for alternatives. While it's awesome to get a great deal on an item of clothing, doesn't the thrill of the deal dim a little if you know a woman or child didn't get paid a living wage to make it and had to endure unsafe working conditions?
Starting research on unethical brands can bring a tidal wave of overwhelm, because honestly, it seems like most big companies are run by a bunch of lying ass crooks. The most important concept you must remember is that WE HAVE THE FREAKING POWER! Seriously, the more that we become informed, aware, and intolerant of unethical business practices, companies will be forced to change if they want our money. Don't be afraid to send an email or two or call out a company on social media if you don't like what you find out. They have to cater to us if they want to be successful, and wouldn't it be cool if we got companies to stop dumping in oceans, using child labor, cutting down the rainforests, and abusing employees? Hell to the freaking YEAAAAAH!
Okay, give it to me straight- are you going to try and be a more ethical consumer, or is it just way too much to put on your plate right now? Let me know in the comments below!