Ethical Consumerism: Individual’s Buying Power


In recent years, the talk about going green, be conscious of what you buy, and so on has been circulating. It won’t be a surprise if you have heard of the word ethical consumerism or ethical shopping every now and then. But what does ethical consumerism really mean? Does ethical consumerism work? Is it really possible to have ethical consumerism? So why are all these brands, businesses, and news talking about ethical consumerism? Well, today we are going to take a closer look at ethical consumerism and see if this is a new way.

Ethical Consumerism: Meaning and Purpose

A simple definition of ethical consumerism is when buying or shopping, you as an individual are consuming with an ethical mindset or ideology. Ethical consumerism is based on the idea that each individual has buying power, what they choose to buy can make a difference for the earth. This might sound very complicated, and ethical consumerism is often interchangeable with ethical shopping, ethical consumption, and so on. By now, you should see a pattern, the word ethical is very common. In order to understand what ethical consumerism means we need to first take a look at the meaning of ethical.

What does Ethical mean?

Ethical means related moral principles or certain standards of knowledge within a field of expertise (social, medical, financial, and so on). In most of these cases, the word ethical largely focuses on the moral of the action, the idea of right or wrong behavior. So now if we apply it back to ethical consumerism, it should make more sense. Where the action of consuming is contributing to right or wrong for the people that are making the products, the society, and the earth we live in. At Ethical Choice, we expanded the idea of ethics to be more than just people, but the society and environment are two very big parts of people’s everyday lives, we want to treat all three aspects right. We hope that everyone is doing their part and the right thing for the people, the society, and the earth by consuming in a certain way, ethical consumerism.
Find out what Ethical Choice’s Ethical Meaning is!

Thinking Like an Ethical Consumer

ethical consumerism is about reading the label and researching
Now you know what ethical consumerism is, however, it might seem like a difficult task or you are not sure what to do to become an ethical consumer. Well, today is your lucky day, we are going to go in detail about ethical consumerism and what you can do.

The idea of ethical consumerism is to shop for products that have beneficial factors or treat the people, the society, and the earth right. Ethical consumerism is something everyone can start doing right now, in fact, many people are already doing it during their everyday grocery shopping or online shopping. They check or look for information where the product is made, how it is made, what was used, and so on. Ethical consumers look for information that tells them that the product is made with an ethical mindset.

A great example would be potato chips that we all love to eat. Oftentimes when we look at the ingredients, there is “vegetable oil”, when in fact many are actually palm oil. Palm oil is an easily accessible oil that is used in making many kinds of products because it can be easily liquified or solidified based on the needs of the product. In addition, palm oil is cheap and there is a relatively stable supply of it, thus many companies use it. However, what many consumers don’t know about palm oil is that the excess amount of use of palm oil has caused deforestation in many places, which accelerates the effects of global warming and destroys the ecosystem where many animals live. In fact, Borneo Island in Southeast Asia, has lost 50% of its tropical forest due to palm oil plantations. In order to meet the large demand for palm oil, countries have to cut down/destroy their natural tropical rainforests for palm oil plantations. Therefore, as the demand for palm oil grows, more and more tropical rainforests would be destroyed, the global environment, ecosystems, and animals will be severely affected. Which is something that also affects other countries and people all over the world because the climate would change and from now on the weather might only get more extreme. So it is important to take a few seconds and check and understand the product, see what effect it has on society, the people, and the earth.

Ethical Consumerism does not mean…

Of course, this does not mean you should go around your house and throw away anything that has palm oil and buy brand new things. That would only cause more landfill waste which is also bad for the environment. The best way is to find out what you are using has palm oil and remember to replace it with products that ethically source palm oil or use other ingredients instead of palm oil. As you are conscious of the palm oil issues and actively looking for products that will alleviate such issues, you are already an ethical consumer, you are part of the ethical consumerism. Palm oil is just one example, there are many other things that choose to make a difference, such as cruelty free, organic, plastic-free, recyclable or biodegradable, and so on. Nowadays there are so many options of ethical consumers to choose from and there is one that is the easiest for you to begin your journey for ethical consumerism.

Ethical Consumerism Rush

Checking label to know more about the product
In 2015 the United Nations announced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are meant to tackle global issues such as poverty, discrimination, and the global environment. The idea is countries get together to solve these global issues together. The goals are separated into 17 categories with specific goals within each and they are to be achieved by 2030. Of course, the government and nation as a whole working together through regulations and all kinds of changes can make a difference and reach the goals. However, each individual can make a difference by choosing to buy ethical products, becoming more ethically conscious, and supporting ethical consumerism to reach the goal in 2030. As an individual, a shopper and a part of the society and earth, we all have a lot of power to make a difference and reach the SDGs. If everyone can take a small step towards a more ethical lifestyle, it will be one big step as a whole. So if everyone decides to only support ethically sourced palm oil or other ingredients, companies will have to change in order to meet the demand and thus, moving closer to the goals. This is why ethical consumerism has become big and getting more attention as we are 10 years away from the deadline and people want to make a difference.

Your First Step Towards Ethical Consumerism

Way to perform ethical consumerism
By now, you know what ethical consumption is, why ethical consumerism exists, and why we need it more, also some examples of ethical consumption. So now it is your turn, you can join us in this ethical consumerism that is making a difference for the world. Whether it is trying out organic or vegan snacks, or cruelty-free products, or even products that pledge to donate to certain charities or even look out for the ingredient of palm oil in your shampoo. Please remember that every small purchase you make will make a difference, no need to rush or go out and splurge your money away. The important part is each of us understands the difference we make and does it one purchase at a time and that’s the ethical consumerism way. Any type of ethical consumerism is welcomed and encouraged, as long as you understand the impact you can make. If you are interested in learning more about ethical consumerism or ethical shopping, please check this article that shares how to ethically shop. Learn more about finding a product that fits your needs and benefits the earth, society, and people.

Let us all make the right choices for the people, society, and the earth through ethical consumerism and ethical choice.

Looking for a way to participate in ethical consumerism right now? Check out this article all about sustainable coffee brands, buy from sustainable and ethically operate coffee brands is a great way to shop ethically.

Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!