Ethical Consumption

I just read a posting on the website,, and clicked on the environment section which talks about the failure of environmental movements to engage the general public. One of their proposed solutions is the idea of ethical consumption, where products are stamped as being more ethical, as a result of fair labour practices and so forth. But then I started thinking about a wider concept based on the individual, what if there was an ethical consumption movement, that challenged each and every one of us to deconstruct ‘wants’ and ‘needs’, before we bought something to ask is it ethical for me to buy this, do I need this, and why do I want this? Will it increase my happiness for more than a moment and how much of my life energy goes into buying this? Is there any way to build a movement based on ethical purchasing that builds on a person’s agency and self-esteem? Has anyone heard George Carlin’s routine on ‘stuff’?

One response to “Ethical Consumption

  1. Hi Ann!

    I really like this thought stream. I too had similar thoughts this past week after Earth Day. I’m lucky to have a lot of environmentally minded friends, but others out there… well green-washing is the only way I can describe it. I had one friend actually state “I bought an environmentally friendly cell-phone on Earth Day!” I didn’t realize that needless consumption to replace objects we have that are not broken was helping our Earth! But this idea of ‘ethical’ or ‘earth friendly’ products doesn’t get to the root of the fact that we do not need to consume so much! Of course everyone has basic wants and needs, but once we have ‘things’ why do we needlessly buy the ‘newer’ version? regardless of how ‘ethical’ it may be. Our consumption patterns are based on just that, consumption. Perhaps the ehtical and earth friendly thing to do is to think whether we actually need new items. For us environmentally aware people this is second nature, or at least the notion of this is not new, I am shocked though that people still don’t understand this. Perhaps this can be my goal to continue on Earth Day throughout the year, to help spread the work about consuming only when need be. Thanks for your thoughts Ann!

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