Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shop&Help: Ethical Consumerism on the Rise

According to a recent article in The Guardian, fair trade products are increasing despite the effects of the global recession. While other markets, such as premium organic food, are slumping in light of rising food and energy prices and stagnant incomes, fairly traded products saw a 12% rise in the UK market in 2011.While the Guardian article focuses on the growth of Fairtrade Foundation labeled food products, this information clearly indicates that ethical consumerism is on the rise, as a growing number of consumers are increasingly conscience of the effects of their purchases.

A Carnegie Mellon University journal article explains that "not 'knowing' about the source of the products you choose to consume is a state of ignorance and is one of the many reasons why human slavery, exploitation, animal suffering, and environmental dumping exists today. The opposite of ethical consumerism is, by default, ignorant, negligent, and exploitive consumerism. Regardless of what type of consumer you may be, the point of the ethical consumerism movement is to consume products in a way that ends this abuse and unnecessary suffering." In this sense, everyone has a stake in the movement. Consumers are increasingly aware of the moral component to our economic footprint. As the article explains, "In a market economy, we vote with our money. How we choose to spend our money is an expression of what we value. Because we hold future revenue to any business in our pockets, we are empowered at some level in how they choose to operate as a company." This means that individuals have the ability to choose to support companies that engage in philanthropy. It also means that individuals hold the responsibility in choosing where they buy there products and what effect their consumption makes.

Friends of Humanity recently launched an new tool to allow consumers to engage in ethical consumerism. shop&help is a unique site that allows shopping to become donating. The site solicits donations from ethically conscious companies and organizations. The site then offers high quality goods and services at a discounted rate to the consumer. shop&help is a particularly powerful tool because 85% of the purchase goes directly to supporting humanitarian causes around the world. This means that renting a sports car for your weekend in Italy could equal schooling for eight students in empoverished Northeast India. A round of golf in Lausanne could equal legal assistance to one  young girl who was a victim of violance in war torn Burundi. A case of wine from Vaud could mean two months of food for homeless in Mongolia. In a very real way, improving your quality of life now allows you to be the change you want to see in the world.

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