Becoming a more ethical consumer

With the rise in climate activism, a similar rise in ethical consumption has also occurred. Now more than ever (in a modern industrial capitalist society, that is) ethical consumption has taken root in our culture, and for good reason. After decades of mass production and millions of tons of waste being left on our planet, we’ve finally begun to try and consume more ethically. But not everyone is so keen on ethical consumption. Many people question whether it has any effect on the planet and if it’s even possible. One of the common arguments against ethical consumption is that it’s simply impossible to live in our world and not cause harm, so there’s no point in making so many sacrifices for a useless cause. And while there may be some truth to that, it’s still important to make an effort to consume more ethically. For most people, it is extremely difficult and expensive to source ethical products, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t source what they can.  

It can be daunting to start your transition into becoming an ethical consumer, but it can be done. It helps to make note of the things you buy the most and take it one step at a time. 

Food 

Buying ethically sourced food can be difficult. It requires some research and determination to find the right products. With so many ethical issues in the world— animal abuse, labor exploitation, environmental destruction, etc.— you may not know where to start. The easiest way to identify bad products is to identify the “bad actors”. Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Monsanto, and Palm Oil are four of the worst actors in the food industry. Coca-Cola has been known for consistent labor and environmental abuses including draining the water supply from an Indian village, inadequate or a complete lack of protective equipment in a factory in China, forced overtime, and the denial of laborers’ rights to unionize. Similarly to Coca-Cola, Nestlé has used the limited water supplies of various communities as well as child labor and animal testing. Monsanto, now a household name, developed products that have caused enormous animal suffering, the increased need to feed farm animals antibiotics, and pushed for the rise of GMOs. The demand for palm oil has caused major environmental devastation, leading to habitat loss and the rise of endangered species. Of course, there are many more bad actors on the playing field, but it’s impossible to find them all, so it’s important that you do what you can to ensure that you know where your products are coming from. 

Toiletries 

The same goes for toiletries and the like. The first step is to figure out how ethically your normal products are made and go from there. If you find, for instance, that your shampoo and conditioner are made by a company that hasn’t tried to reduce their environmental footprint or have an endless list of human rights abuses, it’s time to say goodbye to that brand and find a new, more ethical brand like Love Beauty and Planet. This brand’s products are cruelty free and the plastic bottles are made using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. 

Clothing 

Finding ethically sourced clothes isn’t as difficult as finding ethically sourced food. One of the best options is to go thrift shopping. All the clothes are secondhand, so no production was involved, only transportation. This makes them environmentally friendly and unattached to human rights violations. Another way to shop ethically is to research the brands you’re looking to buy from. The app, “Good on You”, makes this as easy as possible. All you have to do is search for your brand in the app and it will provide you with a rating and the reasoning behind it for that brand.  

While not necessarily an ethical product itself, technology has made it even easier to figure out which companies are ethical and which ones are “bad actors.” As climate change rages on and production shows no signs of slowing down, we should do everything in our power as consumers to reduce our carbon footprints and negative impact on the environment. Ethical consumption plays a huge role in reducing our carbon footprints and helps us to leave less waste on the planet. 

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