Ethical consumerism is having a moment. We see it in our fair-trade coffee, sustainably raised poultry and fish, cruelty-free cosmetics, and more. Buying these products should make us feel better about ourselves, right? Well, not entirely. Yes, it’s better to buy from a cruelty-free brand, but ethical consumerism is so much more than just a label it’s a way of life. That free-range beef you bought it packaged in plastic and will probably be bagged in more plastic unless you brought your own reusable shopping bag, that blush from your favorite brand was ordered online and used at least 4 plastic components plus labor and shipping to arrive at your door. It’s great to make small steps like this to buy better, but that purchase defeats the purpose of the meaning of ‘ethical’ if there are parts that are not. Maybe ethical consumerism also means an ethical supply chain? That can be addressed another time.
Case in point: Everlane. The message behind the brand is ethical consumerism. I’ve sang praises of this brand for years, and I do truly believe they are doing what they can as a multi-million dollar company to minimize the waste in their supply chain. In the past 6 or so months, Everlane made the move to use poly bags to individually package their clothing items before sending them off to customers for web orders or to their 2 stores. This is where ethics comes in. Are there alternatives to using individual bags? Yes. And as consumers, we should be voicing the changes we want to see. Brands do listen.
Aside from this, ethical consumerism is the steps we take to change how and what we buy. Cut down on single-use plastics by purchasing a travel-set of flatware, mesh bags for produce, trying to purchase products that come enclosed in glass vessels for recycling or reusing, and so much more. I’m not saying “don’t buy that”, but I am saying “please buy better.”