Ethical consumerism

Ethical consumerism (alternatively called ethical consumption, ethical purchasing, moral purchasing, ethical sourcing, ethical shopping or green consumerism) is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of dollar voting.[1] It is practiced through 'positive buying' in that ethical products are favoured, or 'moral boycott', that is negative purchasing and company-based purchasing.[2]

The term "ethical consumer", now used generically, was first popularised by the UK magazine Ethical Consumer, first published in 1989.[3] Ethical Consumer magazine's key innovation was to produce 'ratings tables', inspired by the criteria-based approach of the then emerging ethical investment movement. Ethical Consumer's ratings tables awarded companies negative marks (and from 2005 overall scores) across a range of ethical and environmental categories such as 'animal rights', 'human rights' and 'pollution and toxics', empowering consumers to make ethically informed consumption choices and providing campaigners with reliable information on corporate behaviour. Such criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings have subsequently become commonplace both in providing consumer information and in business-to-business corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings such as those provided by Innovest, Calvert Foundation, Domini, IRRC, TIAA–CREF and KLD Analytics. Today, Bloomberg and Reuters provide "environmental, social and governance" ratings direct to the financial data screens of hundreds of thousands of stock market traders.[4] The not-for-profit Ethical Consumer Research Association continues to publish Ethical Consumer and its associated website, which provides free access to ethical ratings tables.

The term political consumerism first used in a study titled “The Gender Gap Reversed: Political Consumerism as a Women-Friendly Form of Civic and Political Engagement” from authors Dietlind Stolle and Michele Micheletti is identical to idea of ethical consumerism; however in this study, the authors found that political consumerism is a form of social participation that often goes overlooked at the time of writing and needs to be accounted for in future studies of social participation.[5]

Consumer Groups

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people began to have formal consumer movement to ensure that people will get value for their money for the things they purchased in industrialised countries. This kind of movements focused on the unfair labor practices of the companies, labelling requirements of food, cosmetics, drugs and etc. Examples to the consumer movements were Consumer League which was established in New York, USA in 1891, National Consumers League created in USA in 1898, Consumers Council which was established during World War I in Great Britain. During that time workers were not well-paid, they did not have secure employment with benefit of social protection, working conditions was decent and in this Irish trade union movement focused the ILO policy of campaigning for decent work wherever there is an opportunity for job improvement or job creation.[6]


Global morality

Electric wire reel reused in a furniture ecodesign
An electric wire reel reused as a center table in a Rio de Janeiro decoration fair. When consumers choose and reuse environmentally friendly material like this, they are practicing ethical consumerism.

In Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market As An Ethical System (1998), John McMurtry argues that no purchasing decision exists that does not itself imply some moral choice, and that there is no purchasing that is not ultimately moral in nature. This mirrors older arguments, especially by the Anabaptists, e.g. Mennonites, Amish, that one must accept all personal moral and spiritual liability of all harms done at any distance in space or time to anyone by one's own choices. It is often suggested that Judeo-Christian scriptures further direct followers towards practising good stewardship of the Earth, under an obligation to a God who is believed to have created the planet for us to share with other creatures. A similar argument presented from a secular humanist point of view is that it is simply better for human beings to acknowledge that the planet supports life only because of a delicate balance of many different factors.

Spending as morality

Some trust criteria, e.g. creditworthiness or implied warranty, are considered to be part of any purchasing or sourcing decision. However, these terms refer to broader systems of guidance that would, ideally, cause any purchasing decision to disqualify offered products or services based on non-price criteria that affect the moral rather than the functional liabilities of the entire production process. Paul Hawken, a proponent of Natural Capitalism, refers to "comprehensive outcomes" of production services as opposed to the "culminative outcomes" of using the product of such services. Often, moral criteria are part of a much broader shift away from commodity markets towards a deeper service economy where all activities, from growing to harvesting to processing to delivery, are considered part of the value chain and for which consumers are "responsible".

Andrew Wilson, Director of the UK's Ashridge Centre for Business and Society, argues that "Shopping is more important than voting", and that the disposition of money is the most basic role we play in any system of economics.[7] Some theorists believe that it is the clearest way that we express our actual moral choices, i.e., if we say we care about something but continue to buy from parties that have a high probability of risk of harm or destruction of that thing, we don't really care about it, we are practising a form of simple hypocrisy.

In an effort by churches to advocate moral and ethical consumerism, many have become involved in the Fair Trade movement:

Standards and labels

A number of standards, labels and marks have been introduced for ethical consumers, such as the following:

Along with disclosure of ingredients, some mandatory labelling of origins of clothing or food is required in all developed nations. This practice has been extended in some developing nations, e.g., where every item carries the name, phone number and fax number of the factory where it was made so a buyer can inspect its conditions. And, more importantly, to prove that the item was not made by "prison labor", use of which to produce export goods is banned in most developed nations. Such labels have also been used for boycotts, as when the merchandise mark Made in Germany was introduced in 1887.

These labels serve as tokens of some reliable validation process, some instructional capital,[15] much as does a brand name or a nation's flag. They also signal some social capital, or trust, in some community of auditors that must follow those instructions to validate those labels.

Verus Carbon Neutral Sign

Some companies in the United States, though currently not required to reduce their carbon footprint, are doing so voluntarily by changing their energy use practices, as well as by directly funding (through carbon offsets), businesses that are already sustainable—or are developing or improving green technologies for the future.

In 2009, Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood became the first Carbon-Neutral Zone in the United States. Seventeen merchants in Virginia-Highland allowed their carbon footprint to be audited. Now, they are partnered with the Valley Wood Carbon Sequestration Project—thousands of acres of forest in rural Georgia—through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).[16][17] The businesses involved in the partnership display the Verus Carbon Neutral seal in each store front and posted a sign prominently declaring the area's Carbon Neutral status. (CCX ceased trading carbon credits at the end of 2010 due to inactivity in the U.S. carbon markets,[18] although carbon exchanges were intended to still be facilitated.)[19][20]

Over time, some theorists suggest, the amount of social capital or trust invested in nation-states (or "flags") will continue to decrease, and that placed in corporations (or "brands") will increase. This can only be offset by retrenched national sovereignty to reinforce shared national standards in tax, trade, and tariff laws, and by placing the trust in civil society in such "moral labels". These arguments have been a major focus of the anti-globalization movement, which includes many broader arguments against the amoral nature of markets as such. However, the economic school of Public Choice Theory pioneered by James M. Buchanan has offered counter-arguments based on an economic demonstration to this theory of 'amoral markets' versus 'moral governments'.

Areas of concern

Ethical Consumer Research Association, the alternative consumer organisation, collects and categorises information of more than 30,000 companies according to their performance in five main areas, composing the Ethiscore:

  • Environment: Environmental Reporting, Nuclear Power, Climate Change, Pollution & Toxics, Habitats & Resources
  • People: Human Rights, Workers' Rights, Supply Chain Policy, Irresponsible Marketing, Armaments
  • Animals: Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Other Animal Rights
  • Politics: Political Activity, Boycott Call, Genetic Engineering, Anti-Social Finance, Company Ethos
  • Product Sustainability: Organic, Fairtrade, Positive Environmental Features, Other Sustainability.[21]


GfK NOP, the market research group, has made a five-country study of consumer beliefs about the ethics of large companies. The report was described in a Financial Times article published on February 20, 2007 entitled "Ethical consumption makes mark on branding",[22] and was followed up by an online debate/discussion hosted by[23] The countries surveyed were Germany, the United States, Britain, France and Spain. More than half of respondents in Germany and the US believed there is a serious deterioration in standards of corporate practice. Almost half of those surveyed in Britain, France and Spain held similar beliefs.

About a third of respondents told researchers they would pay higher prices for ethical brands though the perception of various companies' ethical or unethical status varied considerably from country to country.

The most ethically perceived brands were The Co-op (in the UK), Coca-Cola (in the US), Danone (in France), Adidas (in Germany) and Nestlé (in Spain). Coca-Cola, Danone, Adidas and Nestlé did not appear anywhere in the UK's list of 15 most ethical companies. Nike appeared in the lists of the other four countries but not in the UK's list.

In the UK, The Co-operative Bank has produced an Ethical Consumerism Report[24] (formerly the Ethical Purchasing Index) since 2001. The report measures the market size and growth of a basket of 'ethical' products and services, and valued UK ethical consumerism at GBP36.0 billion (~USD54.4 billion) in 2008, and GBP47.2 billion (USD72.5 billion) in 2012.

A number of organisations provide research-based evaluations of the behavior of companies around the world, assessing them along ethical dimensions such as human rights, the environment, animal welfare and politics. Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 that provides the Green American Seal of Approval and produces a "Responsible Shopper" guide to "alert consumers and investors to problems with companies that they may shop with or invest in."[25] The Ethical Consumer Research Association is a not-for-profit workers' co-operative founded in the UK in 1988 to "provide information on the companies behind the brand names and to promote the ethical use of consumer power"[26] which provides an online searchable database under the name Corporate Critic[27] or Ethiscore.[28] The Ethiscore is a weightable numerical rating designed as a quick guide to the ethical status of companies, or brands in a particular area, and is linked to a more detailed ethical assessment. "alonovo" is an online shopping portal that provides similar weightable ethical ratings termed the "Corporate Social Behavior Index".[29]

Related concepts

Conscientious consumption

The consumer rationalizes unnecessary and even unwanted consumption by saying that "it's for a good cause".[30] As a result, the consumer buys pink ribbons during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, green products to support the environment, candy and popcorn from school children, greeting cards and gift wrap from charities, and many other, often unwanted objects. The consumer avoids considering whether the price offered is fair, whether a small cash donation would be more effective with far less work, or even whether selling the item is consistent with the ostensible mission, such as when sports teams sell candy.

Some of these efforts are based on concept brands: the consumer is buying an association with women's health or environmental concerns as much as she or he is buying a tangible product.[30]

Alternative giving

In response to an increasing demand for ethical consumerism surrounding gift-giving occasions, charities have promoted an alternative gift market, in which charitable contributions are made on behalf of the gift "recipient". The "recipient" receives a card explaining the selected gift, while the actual gift item (frequently agricultural supplies or domestic animals) is sent to a family in a poor community.[31]


Critics argue that the ability to effect structural change is limited to ethical consumerism. Some cite the preponderance of niche markets as the actual effect of ethical consumerism,[32] while others argue that information is limited regarding the outcomes of a given purchase, preventing consumers from making informed ethical choices. Critics have also argued that the uneven distribution of wealth prevents consumerism, ethical or otherwise, from fulfilling its democratic potential.[33]

One study suggests that "Buying Green" serves as a license for unethical behavior – in their 2009 paper, "Do Green Products Make Us Better People?",[34] Nina Mazar, Chen-Bo Zhong state the following:

In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, people act more altruistically after mere exposure to green than conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products as opposed to conventional products. Together, the studies show that consumption is more tightly connected to our social and ethical behaviors in directions and domains other than previously thought.

In a 2010 The Guardian article, British environmental writer and activist George Monbiot argued that green consumers who do not articulate their values are part of "a catastrophic mistake" on the grounds that such consumerism "strengthens extrinsic values" (those that "concern status and self-advancement"), thereby "making future campaigns less likely to succeed".[35]

See also


  1. ^ *Giesler, Markus; Veresiu, Ela (2014). "Creating the Responsible Consumer: Moralistic Governance Regimes and Consumer Subjectivity". Journal of Consumer Research. 41 (October): 849–867. doi:10.1086/677842.
  2. ^ "Why buy ethically". Ethical Consumer. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  3. ^ "20th Birthday!". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  4. ^ "Is ESG Data Going Mainstream?". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  5. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 2018-12-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Consumer groups in ethical consumerism.
  7. ^ "Ethics is in the eye of the spender". Sustainability at LSE. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  8. ^ "Our History". Ten Thousand Villages. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  9. ^ "Our Story". SERRV. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  10. ^ "Catholic Relief Services". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  11. ^ "Home - Lutheran World Relief | Working to end poverty, injustice and human suffering". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  12. ^ "About Village Markets and Fair Trade". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  13. ^ "'God's love is what they pass on' : Fair trade is a mission for a Wittenberg University grad, students and faculty". The Lutheran. 2012-03-29. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  14. ^ [1] Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Coop Marque". Coop. International Cooperative Alliance.
  16. ^ Jay, Kate (November 14, 2008). "First Carbon Neutral Zone Created in the United States". Reuters. Archived from the original on September 7, 2009.
  17. ^ Auchmutey, Jim (January 26, 2009). "Trying on carbon-neutral trend". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  18. ^ "ICE cuts staff at Chicago Climate Exchange-sources". Reuters. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  19. ^ Weitzman, Hal. "End of US carbon trading looms". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  20. ^ Lavelle, Marianne (November 3, 2010). "A U.S. Cap-And-Trade Experiment to End". National Geographic. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  21. ^ Rob Gray, Dave Owen and Carol Adams, "Accounting and accountability : changes and challenges in corporate social and environmental reporting"
  22. ^ Grande, Carlos (2007-02-20). "Ethical consumption makes mark on branding". Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  23. ^ "entitled 'Ethical consumption makes mark on branding'". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
  24. ^ "Ethical Consumerism Report". Co-operative Bank. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  25. ^ "Coop American: Responsible Shopping: About". Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  26. ^ "Ethical Consumer Research Association: About". Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  27. ^ "Research & Ratings: About the Ethiscore". Corporate Critic. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  28. ^ "Research and ratings". Ethiscore. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  29. ^ Aalonovo Corporate Social Behavior Index Archived June 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ a b Gayle A. Sulik (2010). Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women's Health. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 111–132. ISBN 0-19-974045-3. OCLC 535493589.
  31. ^ "Giving well is hard to do: so here's my seasonal guide". London: The Guardian. 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
  32. ^ Devinney, Timothy. "Value vs. Values: The Myth of the Ethical Consumer". Policy Innovations. Policy Innovations. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  33. ^ Gee, Tim (March 26, 2014). "When did fair trade become a consumerist concept?". New Statesman. New Statesman. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  34. ^ Do Green Products Make Us Better People? (Psychological Science, April, 2010) Nina Mazar, Chen-Bo Zhong
  35. ^ Monbiot, George (12 October 2010). "It goes against our nature; but the left has to start asserting its own values". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2010.

Further reading

  • Speth, James Gustave (2008). The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability. Caravan Books.
  • Bartley, Tim and colleagues (2015). Looking Behind the Label: Global Industries and the Conscientious Consumer. Indiana University Press.

Anti-consumerism is a sociopolitical ideology that is opposed to consumerism, the continual buying and consuming of material possessions. Anti-consumerism is concerned with the private actions of business corporations in pursuit of financial and economic goals at the expense of the public welfare, especially in matters of environmental protection, social stratification, and ethics in the governing of a society. In politics, anti-consumerism overlaps with environmental activism, anti-globalization, and animal-rights activism; moreover, a conceptual variation of anti-consumerism is post-consumerism, living in a material way that transcends consumerism.Anti-consumerism arose in response to the problems caused by the long-term mistreatment of human consumers and of the animals consumed, and from the incorporation of consumer education to school curricula; examples of anti-consumerism are the book No Logo (2000) by Naomi Klein, and documentary films such as The Corporation (2003), by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003), by Erik Gandini; each made anti-corporate activism popular as an ideologically accessible form of civil and political action.

The criticism of economic materialism as a dehumanizing behaviour that is destructive of the Earth, as human habitat, comes from religion and social activism. The religious criticism asserts that materialist consumerism interferes with the connection between the individual and God, and so is an inherently immoral style of life; thus the German historian Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) said that "Life in America is exclusively economic in structure, and lacks depth." From the Roman Catholic perspective, Thomas Aquinas said that "Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things"; in that vein, Francis of Assisi, Ammon Hennacy, and Mohandas Gandhi said that spiritual inspiration guided them towards simple living.

From the secular perspective, social activism indicates that from consumerist materialism derive crime (which originates from the poverty of economic inequality), industrial pollution and the consequent environmental degradation, and war as a business. About the societal discontent born of malaise and hedonism, Pope Benedict XVI said that the philosophy of materialism offers no raison d'être for human existence; likewise, the writer Georges Duhamel said that "American materialism [is] a beacon of mediocrity that threatened to eclipse French civilization".

Center for a New American Dream

New Dream – previously known as The Center for a New American Dream — is a nonprofit organization with a stated mission to “empower individuals, communities, and organizations to transform the ways they consume to improve well-being for people and the planet." [1]

Consumer education

Consumer education is the preparation of an individual through skills, concepts and understanding that are required for everyday living to achieve maximum satisfaction and utilization of his/her resources. It is defined as education given to the consumer about various consumer goods and services, covering price, what the consumer can expect, standard trade practice, etc. Such information may be relayed through magazines, websites or word of mouth. While consumer education can help consumers to make more informed decisions, some researchers have found that its effects can drop off over time, suggesting the need for education initiatives to be ongoing or periodically repeated. New dimensions of consumer education are also beginning to emerge as people become more aware of the need for ethical consumerism and sustainable consumer behaviour in our increasingly globalized society.

Traditionally, consumer education can be found in several areas of study in the formal school curriculum and incorporates knowledge from many disciplines, including:


Game theory

Information theory




One magazine devoted to providing consumers with accurate reviews of products is Consumer Reports, not to be confused with Consumers Digest.

Six consumer rightsIn order to safeguard consumer interest, six consumer rights were initially envisioned by consumer rights activists of the West, namely:

Right to Safety

Right to Information

Right to Choice

Right to be Heard

Right to Redress

Right to consumer education

Advantages of consumer education

Feedback for the business

Producers and sellers will not take consumers for granted

Government response

Consumer - Producer interaction

Consumer education involves three parties



GovernmentEvolution of Consumer Education: The Rise of Ethically and Environmentally Responsible Consumerism:

Over the past few decades, consumers have become increasingly more aware of how their choices have both ethical and environmental consequences. Research shows that consumers are increasingly more aware of the exploitation of workers in the global supply chain, as well as environmental degradation from the creation of specific goods and services. Governments and educational institutions are beginning to recognize the need to provide their citizens with a more robust consumer education. In our increasingly globalized world, consumers need to know how to make more ethical, environmental, and socially responsible consumer choices in addition to understanding more traditional forms of consumer education such as financial literacy and consumer rights and responsibilities.

Double-duty dollar

The term double duty dollar was used in the United States from the early 1900s through the early 1960s, to express the notion that dollars spent with businesses that hired African Americans "simultaneously purchased a commodity and advanced the race". Where that concept applied, it was believed that retailers who excluded African Americans as employees should be shunned.

The slogan was popularized by journalist Gordon B. Hancock. Numerous ministers and activists such as Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey urged their communities to redirect their dollars from retailers and services who refused to hire African Americans to those who did hire them.Though the Swadeshi movement had much broader goals, in the 1920s Mohandas Gandhi of India urged his countrymen to avoid funding their own subjugation by buying items from the British which they could produce and trade independently, such as cloth and clothing. In the 1940s and 1950s, Leon Sullivan applied the broader phrase "'selective patronage" to denote consumers' choice of retailers as a tool a) to influence businesses toward having more fair and just interactions with African Americans, and b) to build demand for African-American businesses.While African-American efforts continue, the strategy has also been applied by others for different, but similar reasons. Among their goals are

to create economic incentives for gay-friendly suppliers;

to decrease food miles;

to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and make it more sustainable;

to make local economies deeper, etc. The double duty dollar concept is part of a broad spectrum of consumer activism or ethical consumerism strategies.

Ellis Jones (sociologist)

Ellis McNatt Jones (born February 25, 1970) is an American sociologist and author at College of the Holy Cross. His research has focused on ethical consumerism, corporate social responsibility, and lifestyle movements. He is best known for his research translating the social and environmental records of companies into an A to F rating system for use by consumers.

Ethical Consumer

Ethical Consumer is a not-for-profit UK magazine and website which publishes information on the social, ethical and environmental behaviour of companies and issues around trade justice and ethical consumerism. It was founded in 1989 by Rob Harrison and Jane Turner.

Ethical eating

Ethical eating or food ethics refers to the moral consequences of food choices, both those made by humans for themselves and those made for food animals. Common concerns are damage to the environment, exploitive labor practices, food shortages for others, inhumane treatment of food animals, and the unintended effects of food policy. Ethical eating is a type of ethical consumerism.

Green America

Green America (originally known as Co-op America until January 1, 2009) is a nonprofit membership organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism. Founded in 1982, by Paul Freundlich, it is dedicated to harnessing the economic power of consumers, investors and businesses to promote social justice and environmental sustainability through helping responsible consumers and green businesses find each other in the marketplace. Businesses displaying the Green America Seal of Approval have successfully completed Green America's screening process and have been approved to be listed as a socially and environmentally responsible — or green — businesses in their National Green Pages directory. The Green America Approved seal is given to applicant businesses that operate in ways that support workers, communities, and protect the environment.

Green consumption

Green consumption, is closely related to the notions of sustainable development or sustainable consumer behaviour. It is a form of consumption that is compatible with the safeguard of the environment for the present and for the next generations. It is a concept which ascribes to consumers responsibility or co-responsibility for addressing environmental problems through adoption of environmentally friendly behaviors, such as the use of organic products, clean and renewable energy and the research of goods produced by companies with zero, or almost, impact.In Western societies, during the ‘60s and the early ‘70s, the necessity to protect the environment and the people health from the effects caused by industrial pollutants and by the continuous growth of economic and population has developed this new idea of consumption. In the 1980s first American "green" brands began to appear and exploded on the American market. During the 1990s green products had a slow mild growth, remaining a niche phenomenon. American interest in green products . started to increase again in the early 2000s with greater speed and, despite the latest recession, it has been continuing to grow.

Green gifting

Green gifting is an emerging trend that results in a lower environmental impact as well as a lower impact on personal budgets from the gift giving process. It began with the idea of recycling the packaging around a gift and has expanded into the mindset that presents themselves can be chosen or created for the purpose of recycling or lowering their environmental and budgetary impact.The concept of re-gifting has traditionally been frowned upon. Because of this, one of the most important steps for successful green gifting is for the host to indicate that green gifting is not only approved, but preferred. An event that features green gifting encourages those invited to practice the level of green gifting the giver is comfortable with:

Re-gift a never used or gently used item.

Use recycled wrapping paper, bows or gift bags.

Substitute newspaper or cloth for wrapping paper. Two examples of traditional cloth wrappings are furoshiki and bojagi.

Create a present by hand.

Give a pass or membership to a local zoo, museum, or state and national park.

Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale

Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale (G.A.S., Italian for ethical purchasing groups) are an Italian-based system of purchasing goods collectively. These groups are usually set up by a number of consumers who cooperate in order to buy food and other commonly used goods directly from producers or from big retailers at a price that is fair to both parties.

List of waste management concepts

This is a list of waste management concepts.

Best practicable environmental option

Extended producer responsibility

Muda (Japanese term)

Pay as you throw

Polluter pays principle

Precautionary principle

Product stewardship

Proximity principle

Resource recovery

Waste hierarchy





Zero waste

Local purchasing

Local purchasing is a preference to buy locally produced goods and services over those produced farther away. It is very often abbreviated as a positive goal, "buy local", that parallels the phrase "think globally, act locally", common in green politics.

On the national level, the equivalent of local purchasing is import substitution, the deliberate industrial policy or agricultural policy of replacing goods or services produced on the far side of a national border with those produced on the near side, i.e., in the same country or trade bloc.

Historically, there have been so many incentives to buy locally that no one had to make any kind of point to do so, but with current market conditions, it is often cheaper to buy distantly produced goods, despite the added costs in terms of packaging, transport, inspection, retail facilities, etc. As such, one must now often take explicit action if one wants to purchase locally produced goods.

These market conditions are based on externalized costs, argues local economy advocates. Examples of externalized costs include the price of war, asthma, or climate change, which are not typically included in the cost of a gallon of fuel, for instance. Most advocates for local economics address contracting and investment, as well as purchasing.

Agricultural alternatives are being sought, and have manifested themselves in the form of farmers' markets, farmed goods sold through the community cooperatives, urban gardens, and even school programs that endorse community agriculture.

Organic Trade Association

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association that focuses on the organic business community in North America. OTA's mission is to promote ethical consumerism, promoting and protecting the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. OTA is a member of The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) and The International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard.

Product Red

Product Red, stylized as (PRODUCT)RED™, is a licensed brand that seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in eight African countries. It is licensed to partner companies including Nike, American Express (UK), Apple Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Starbucks, Converse, Electronic Arts, Head, Buckaroo, Penguin Classics (UK & International), Gap, Armani, Hallmark (US), SAP, Beats Electronics, and Supercell. The concept was founded in 2006 by U2 frontman and activist Bono, together with Bobby Shriver of the ONE Campaign and DATA. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a recipient of Product Red's money.

As part of a new business model, each partner company creates a product with the Product Red logo. In return for the opportunity to increase revenue through the Product Red license, up to 50% of profits gained by each partner is donated to the Global Fund. As Product Red is owned by Red, a portion of the contributions received from the partner brands is assigned as profit. Such an amalgamation of humanitarian aid and for-profit businesses is one example of "ethical consumerism".

In 2012, ONE acquired (RED) as a division of ONE. Both organizations were co-founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver.

Product stewardship

Product stewardship is where environmental, health, and safety protection centers on the product itself, and everyone involved in the lifespan of the product is called upon to take up responsibility to reduce its environmental, health, and safety impacts. For manufacturers, this includes planning for, and if necessary, paying for the recycling or disposal of the product at the end of its useful life. This may be achieved, in part, by redesigning products to use fewer harmful substances, to be more durable, reusable and recyclable, and to make products from recycled materials. For retailers and consumers, this means taking an active role in ensuring the proper disposal or recycling of an end-of-life product.

Those who advocate it are concerned with the later phases of product lifecycle and the comprehensive outcome of the whole production process. It is considered a pre-requisite to a strict service economy interpretation of (fictional, national, legal) "commodity" and "product" relationships.

The most familiar example is the container-deposit legislation. A fee is paid to buy the bottle, separately from the fee to buy what it contains. If the bottle is returned, the fee is returned, and the supplier must return the bottle for re-use or recycling. If not, the collected fee can be used to pay for landfill or litter control measures. Also, since the same fee can be collected by anyone finding and returning the bottle, it is common for people to collect these and return them as a means of surviving. This is quite common for instance among homeless people in U.S. cities.

However, the principle is applied very broadly beyond bottles to paint and automobile parts such as tires. When purchasing paint or tires in many places, one simultaneously pays for the disposal of the toxic waste they become. In some countries, such as Germany, law requires attention to the comprehensive outcome of the whole extraction, production, distribution, use and waste of a product, and holds those profiting from these legally responsible for any outcome along the way. This is also the trend in the UK and EU generally. In the United States, the issue has been confronted via class action lawsuits that attempt to hold companies liable for the environmental impact of their products. Thus far, such as litigation or proposed accounting reforms such as full cost accounting have not gained much traction for the product stewardship concept in the United States beyond the realm of academe and corporate public relations (derisively referred to as greenwashing).

The demand-side approach ethical consumerism, supported by consumer education and information about environmental impacts, may approach some of the same outcomes as product stewardship.

Sustainable consumer behaviour

Sustainable consumer behaviour is consumers’ behaviors that improve social and environmental performance as well as meet their needs. It studies why and how consumers do or do not incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. Also, it studies what products consumers do or do not buy, how they use them and what they do with them afterwards. One mechanism to spread information about sustainable consumer behaviour is word of mouth.From a conventional marketing perspective, consumer behaviour has focused largely on the purchase stage of the total consumption process. This is because it is the actual point at which a contract is made between the buyer and seller, money is paid and the ownership of products transfers to the consumer. Yet from a social and environmental perspective, consumer behaviour needs to be understood as a whole since a product affects all stages of a consumption process.

Sustainable consumption

As a compliment to analyses of production and its processes, Sustainable Consumption (SC) is the study of resource and energy use (domestic or otherwise). As the term sustainability would imply, those who study SC seek to apply the concept of “continuance”—the capacity to meet both present and future human generational needs. SC, then, would also include analyses of efficiency, infrastructure, and waste, as well as access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. It shares a number of common features with and is closely linked to the terms sustainable production and sustainable development. Sustainable consumption as part of sustainable development is a prerequisite in the worldwide struggle against sustainability challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, famines or environmental pollution.

Sustainable development as well as sustainable consumption rely on certain premises such as:

Effective use of resources, and minimisation of waste and pollution

Use of renewable resources within their capacity for renewal

Fuller product life-cycles

Intergenerational and intragenerational equity

The Honest Company

The Honest Company is an American consumer goods company, founded by actress Jessica Alba, that emphasizes household products to supply the marketplace for ethical consumerism. The company had $250 million in 2016 sales and was valued shy of $1 billion as of October 2017. The Honest Company has raised multiple rounds of venture capital and was anticipating an initial public offering as of 2016. Honest serves the United States and Canada and plans to launch its beauty line products in Western Europe in 2019.

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