Being ethical with people is something most of us can strive for fairly easily. Afterall, treat people like you want to be treated is the Golden Rule.
Doing it as a consumer with the things you buy, labor conditions you encounter, and sustainability can require a little more forethought. Here are some ways you can become an ethical shopper:
A way to start is to consume less. It will help the planet and your wallet.
Start by taking 24 hours to consider whether you really need something before you buy it. This will prevent impulse buys and give you time to talk with your family about whether this is an item you really need. Waiting a day shouldn’t be too difficult and could lead you to buying something used instead.
Amazon and other online retailers can be a big part of impulse purchases, especially if you have their apps on your phone. If you’ve waited 24 hours and still want to buy the item, choose standard shipping times over same-day or next-day delivery, and ship multiple items together.
This reduces packaging and cuts down on emission costs. Amazon Prime’s free two-day delivery, among other delivery services, adds hundreds of thousands of cars to the road to make those deliveries. Consolidating deliveries can help, as can buying something online and picking it up in store.
Supporting local businesses or buying locally grown produce at farmers markets is better for the environment because it decreases the distance products have to travel. It also gives shoppers the chance to talk to merchants directly and ask how products are sourced and made.
Standards can vary widely, but labels such as “Fair Trade Certified” or “USDA Organic” can signify that a supply chain has gone through some type of vetting.
An extra step is to look for companies that have B Corporation Certification. This looks at companies’ products and social and environmental impacts. Factors such as energy usage and workers’ wages are assessed in this rigorous certification process that can lead to a label being put on a product.
Companies with such certification include the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, New Belgium Brewing Co. and cosmetics company Natura.
Easy ways to reduce waste
Carrying a reusable shopping bag or keeping a reusable coffee cup in your car are two easy ways to reduce waste. It doesn’t take much effort to keep half a dozen reusable shopping bags in the trunk of your car which can make being an ethical shopper an easy habit to get into.