Why and how to be an ethical tech consumer

The age of Facebook, Amazon, and Apple has brought us a culture of connectivity and convenience. Their products and services have permeated our society so much that it would be hard to imagine life without them! While it is no doubt that these tech giants have advanced our greater community, we should be mindful of how we consume technology. Below are some tips to help you become an ethical tech consumer!

Reflect on how tech companies operate:

The next time you decide to use Grubhub or Postmates, think on how these meal delivery companies treat their service workers. How much do they pay delivery drivers? What are their personal data protection policies? A recent New York Times investigation found that in some companies, tips earned go straight to corporate, not the workers themselves. For music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, do they give fair loyalties to artists? There must be some catch in being able to stream music offline for such a small fee. 

Consider supporting smaller, lesser known companies:

It is hard for a lot of us to completely stop using Facebook. We depend on it to help us connect to others whether it’s through Instagram or Messenger. However, you can also experiment with similar products like Signal, a messaging app with an open-source software.  Instead of buying the newest Apple product, consider other smartphones that are not only less expensive (your wallet will thank you) but also rely on ethical labor and production. This can allow you to expand your horizons and who knows, maybe you’ll find something that you like better.

Pace your consumption -- you’ll eventually be liberated:

Take the path less travelled: delay how often you upgrade tech products and gadgets as this could affect environment sustainability. Some companies are not as green as they market themselves to be. By producing difficult to maintain and repair products, consumers are more likely to contribute to e-waste. Consider playing a part in making the world more sustainable!

 

Forgo small conveniences:

You, the consumer, have more power than you think! When shopping on Amazon, think twice before you choose ‘same or next day’ delivery. Be wary of super fast service like these -- it comes with a cost. A good resource would be The Center for Humane Technology raising awareness to unchecked tech use especially for young consumers. Excessive technology has some detrimental effects to young people like depression and even addiction. Supporting them allows for more education on how to utilize tech better in all aspects of life. 

 

It is definitely a challenge to be an ethical consumer in this day and age. Small actions DO go a long way! The key is to research more on which aspects of ethical tech you want to support -- whether it's fair labor practices or companies making a difference for the environment. The more people get involved, the more we open up conversation about what it means to be an ethical tech consumer.

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Images: 1, 2, 3