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Ethical seems to be the catch phrase for the modern day – you can be an ethical consumer, you can buy ethical coffee, ethical jewellery, consume ethical food, you can read ethical material…what is and why the global surge in interest in ethical behaviour?

What is ethical?

Commonly defined within the Good V Evil and Right V Wrong conversation, honesty, fairness and equity is implicit in ethical behaviour.

To act ethically requires a respect of individuals (and groups) dignity, diversity and rights and also an ability to conform to an acceptable standard of social or professional behaviour.

The question is, what is acceptable anymore?

Often the word ‘ethical’ is attributed to developing nations or minority groups in society who are not big enough or strong enough to stand up for their own rights and get trampled by the developed world.

Ethics has been brought into every debate, there are ethical dilemmas around leadership, agriculture, the hospitality and food sector, the ‘big end of town’, the ‘rag trade’ and cosmetics industry, just to name a few.

The current debate is very much around environmental and social sustainability and the plight of the global economy.

“Is it ethical to have CEOs of big banks earning multi-million dollar salaries whilst there are hundreds of millions of people dying or homeless, is it ethical to consume so much fossil fuel to the known detriment of the environment?”

The challenge is that we have become accustomed to our behaviours and habits around all these issues and as a society we seem to largely be willing to accept the consequences. How do we change before it is too late?

We want to challenge you to think differently and more importantly ACT differently. We want to inspire you and connect you with stories of people who, by their actions are making a choice based on ethics and acting on that choice…and making a difference!

What is ethical consumption?

Consumption is the opposite of production and is, broadly speaking, the purchase of goods and services.
Ethical consumption (being an ethical consumer) therefore, is the intentional action of purchasing goods and services that have been provided by companies that undertake business in an ethical way – that is, without harm or exploitataion of humans, animals or the natural environment. Wikipedia

How do you do it?
Ethical consumption is NOT easy, nor is it for the faint hearted, you have to REALLY want to make a difference.

guide_anim_gif_234x75People power is HUGE when it is applied and when people make a choice NOT to buy something, becuase it does not me
et ethicalstandards, it is just as big a message as when they choose to buy the alternative.

You need to shop with your conscience turned on and think of the ‘things’ we are consuming
within a greater context that the product or service in isolation (eg a bag of carrots is not just a bag of carrots; it is an agricultural production system, it is a transportation system, it is a plastic manufacturer, it is a waste management challenge and it may even be a biohazard)!

I know, your head hurts!

But it is more simple once you get used to it – just consider the bigger picture when you shop.

A simple way to start is to ask yourself some questions before you buy something.

Can I live without this?
is this essential to my health, wellbeing or daily function, will it enhance my life, will it add value to my life, do I need this to survive and thrive…

How was this made?
was this made using natural fibres, sustainable farming systems, was this made using chemicals, was this made by hand or machine…

Who made this?
was this made locally, was this made under Fair Trade conditions, was this made by someone who needs a job, was this made by a child…

Where was this made?
how far from my purhcase point was this made, what are the food miles attributed to this product…

What is it made of?
is this made of natural ingredients or products, is this made of environmentally damaging products, is this made from a renewable resource…

What do I know about who owns this and how they do business?
is this a big corporation or a small family business, is this a business that has ethical standards, is this an Australian owned company…

What happens to this when/if I throw it away?
will this end up as landfill, will this break down, can this be recycled…

Is there a better option?
is there a more ethical, sustainable, carbon efficient, more cost effective, more local option…

AND the biggest questions of all

Does it matter… and am I prepared to make some small changes to my consumption habits to make a big difference?

Check out the Australian Ethical Consumer Group for more information!