Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Ethical New Year!

Like many of us, I consider myself to be a good person. Not perfect by any means, but I would say I ‘do my bit.’ I sponsor children, recycle my garbage, I even work for aid and development organisation World Vision Australia. But lately I have realised this is not enough. Like Ghandi said, ‘Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.’ In summary, it is not enough to do good when we continue to go along with evil. And I have been going along with evil for many years now.

We live in a world were human, animal and environmental rights are neglected for the sake of corporate profit. As an example of this, around the world over 27 million people have been trafficked into exploitative labour, making human trafficking and slavery the third largest transnational organised crime in the world, only just behind drugs and weapons trading. Millions of those that have been trafficked find themselves picking the cocoa beans which make our favourite chocolate, or sewing the stiches on the clothing we purchase (Don’t Trade Lives, 2010).

Like me, you may feel removed from this world of abuse and corporate greed. And like me, you may feel as though you have nothing to do with this system of evil and even feel directly opposed to the activities of these companies. However, every dollar we spend endorses a company and its activities, whether that is endorsing child slave labour, environmental degradation or human trafficking (Ethical Supermarket Shopping, 2010).

I don’t know about you, but I certainly would never consciously make out a cheque to a company that would put the money towards purchasing the chains that keep children tied to benches in a sweatshop in India. However, more often than not, I am unknowingly funding activities such as this when I use my well earned money to make a purchase in the supermarket or clothing store.

But this is not intended to be a depressing blog. This is intended to fill you with hope that we as consumers can make a difference, simply by thinking through and researching our purchases. There are in fact many companies, including large corporations and small independent producers with good track records, who do not exploit others for their gain. We can therefore use our purchasing power to buy products from such companies, supporting practises that make the world a better place. At the same time this will send a strong message for change to those companies that are in the business of exploitation (Ethical Supermarket Shopping, 2010).

So this year, I invite you to journey with me as I aim to use every dollar I spend for good and not harm. I know at times this will be very difficult, and maybe even impossible. But other times it may be a simple choice between two products. I will be using tools such as ‘The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping 2010’ amongst others. Join me week by week as I disclose my purchases and discuss how easy or difficult it was to find an ethical option for my purchase. I will also discuss topical issues relating to ethical consumerism. I invite your suggestions and comments along the way- I need all the help I can get! You may even like to join me on this journey...

Happy ethical new year!



The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping. (2010). Ethical Consumer Group Inc.

Don’t Trade Lives. (2010). World Vision Australia. Retrieved 1st January 2011 from