It’s not enough to buy produce and clothes anymore without caring where it has come from and who had made it. As the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider, here in the Western world we must take responsibility for our shopping habits and put pressure on the powers that be to ensure that conditions abroad are not horrendous for those who make our goods. So how can we, as shoppers, know that we are acting responsibly and shop with a conscience?
- Shop Locally
If you want to support your local community directly then avoid the big chain stores and shop at local businesses. You might think you can find everything cheaper at a big store or online but if you’re helping to give the economy a push on your own doorstep then the whole community reaps the benefits. Local businesses won’t be forced to close, there will be more employment and your carbon footprint will be much smaller. Take the time to get to know your local business owners and you might be pleasantly surprised at the brilliant customer service and convenience of shopping locally.
There are some global companies who take advantage of the communities in which they base their factories. Some large fashion brands use slave labour in third world countries to create your designer look so before you go shopping, do a little digging on the companies you’ve bought from in the past. If you don’t like their ethics then send an email telling them why you are choosing another company to buy from.
- Shop Fair Trade
When you buy Fair Trade products you know that people who made the item are getting a fair price and a fair deal from the transaction. In poorer countries, this equates to supporting craftspeople, farmers and families to improve working conditions, better educate their children and provide employment for women. If you want your money to make a real difference to a community and not a corporation then Fair Trade is the perfect choice for good-conscience consumerism. For example, a hand-made beautiful Bolga Basket makes an ideal gift. For more information on Fair Trade gifts, visit www.injabulo.com/
- Give Back
You don’t always have to avoid the big-name brands as many offer products which promise to give back to a particular community, charity or cause. Look out for these products online and in store, that promise to give back a certain amount for every item sold to worthy causes around the world. Some large firms engage in Corporate Citizenship Programs which aim to return investment into community projects and work ethically alongside environmental and social causes. An example of this is Microsoft, who have donated millions to communities across the globe.
- Environmental Impact
If you’re concerned about the green credentials of a particular high-street brand then you can check out their impact on the climate, see their carbon emissions and environmentally-friendly actions online at a site called Climate Counts. This way you can make an educated decision on whether to give them your business or not.