Conscious consumerism is a relatively new phrase that is featured in all sustainability narratives. And it is so important in this day and age, as there are so many unethical practices in the world… and it is well known that we are at a critical stages of climate change. We’ve all heard about bad practices in factories and murky supply chains. But there is good news.
Increasing awareness around conscious consumerism is leading to a movement within societies, of people making positive decisions on what to buy and not to buy. The notion of voting with your wallet. So many people are buying responsibly by choosing providers that produce items ethically. This could mean not buying Palm oil products which tear down orang-utan homes or clothes made in china where people are treated poorly. People are becoming more mindful so they shop with smaller businesses and buying locally produced goods, rather than counterfeit goods, human trafficking and overproduction.
There are many companies that promote this ethos already, the most well-known being The Body Shop. They were one of the first to promote fair trade and ethical consumerism. There are also a wide variety coffee companies are also focusing on importing/exporting coffee under the fair trade brand. And just from walking around London, Berlin and Lisbon, it’s easy to see that there are so many local cafes and stores selling organic and homemade products. It’s really amazing to notice how many people are being mindful about where to get their items.
Not only that a third of UK consumers claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of products and a study from the Global Poverty Project revealed that 74% of those surveyed would pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. If you’re thinking that 5% doesn’t sound like a lot, it really is! The fashion industry could take 125 million people out of poverty by adding only 1% of its profits to workers’ wages.
So what can you do to ensure the business that you start is ethical?
Well, the first thing to do when starting up your business are these things:
1. Always choose to get your products made locally or check how they are made. Try to see the factory in person to get a feel for it.
2. Give to a charity with any extra earnings you have made above paying yourself. You could even to a “Plant a Tree” scheme with every purchase so you know that you are giving back to the world.
3. Educate yourself and try and set goals around conscious consumerism every three months.
4. Brand yourself as ethical and ensure that you live up to your brand.
5. Have regular contact with your supply chain and manufacturers to ensure best practices are kept to.
6. Stick to getting things made locally so that you don’t rack up your carbon footprint.
For more ideas or a discussion around this, why not send me an email on email@example.com.