Ethical consumers

Nearly every consumer has heard of the shoe company TOMS and its “buy one, give one” business model. However, there are a number of other companies which also work to support ethical consumerism.

5 Companies for Ethical Consumers to Support Outside of TOMS

  1. 4Ocean: 4Ocean founders Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper started their company after taking a trip to Bali, Indonesia and seeing the planet’s pollution problem first hand. Today they are present in 27 nations, employing over 150 locals. The company creates bracelets from the plastic and glass waste they clean up, pledging to clean one pound of trash for every bracelet sold. By employing locals to do so, they are empowering the people most affected by pollution and giving back to their economies.
  2. WakaWaka: WakaWaka, a Dutch solar manufacturer, has pledged to send over 2,000 LED lights to regions in West Africa currently struggling with Ebola outbreaks. Over 90 percent of Liberia and Sierra Leone are living in the dark, with no access to the power grid. WakaWaka hopes by bringing electricity to these regions they can help make a difference in the fight against Ebola. The WakaWaka Foundation donates its devices to areas in need around the world or “at a subsidized price or in exchange for community work.”
  3. HopeMade: HopeMade describes themselves as a “sustainable, and fair trade brand,” selling hand-made bags. They employ members of indigenous Colombian tribes, paying fair wages for the craftsmanship. The commitment to living wages and ethical production allows ethical consumers to know their money is going into the pocket of someone that needs it. According to HopeMade, “you directly support the sustainable fashion as well as empowering marginalized communities and this small tribe of powerful women.”
  4. Frank Water: Frank Water is a charity dedicated to providing safe drinking water for people living in Nepal and India. The company sells refillable water bottles and provides open access to tap water for the cost of just $5. All proceeds go towards giving those in need access to clean water. Without charities such as Frank Water girls must spend 6 hours a day fetching water. Frank Water has given over 100,000 people access to water, giving back hours of their day which can now be spent getting an education or working.
  5. Fair Indigo: Fair Indigo’s slogan “fashion with a conscience” sums up the clothing brand – sustainable and fairly made. The company is based in Peru, where it employs locals and pays fair wages. Fair Indigo holds a strong stance against sweatshops in the fashion industry. The company even has its own non-profit, The Fair Indigo Foundation, which is working to improve education in Peru. They are proud to state that every penny donated goes directly to the cause, with Fair Indigo baring the administrative cost.

Ethical brands such as these are working to make the world a better and more equal place for all people. While many companies attempt to profit off poverty-porn, there are still many options for ethical consumers that wish to spend their dollars at a company that cares.

– Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

FRANK-water-saves-livesjpgKatie Alcott, young social entrepreneur and founder of FRANK Water, started the charity and social enterprise by producing and selling her own brand of bottled spring water and using the profits to afford clean drinking water worldwide.

After being diagnosed with dysentery, Alcott launched FRANK Water, creating it as both a registered charity (No. 1121273) under the name “FRANK Water Projects” and as a social enterprise that donates all its net proceeds to FRANK’s Projects.

FRANK Water has impacted more than 200,000 people in more than 128 communities. The goal is to provide clean, accessible drinking water to the 748 million worldwide who need it the most.

FRANK is working in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, various states in India. In 2014, nearly 95 communities totaling to 176,063 people received safe water and sanitation. By 2015, 80 new communities will welcome FRANK, which will serve 17,800 people.

Much of FRANK’s work is teamed with local community-based organizations. Currently, FRANK’s India partners are SAMERTH, CURE India, People Science Instirute, Bala Vikasa, VJNNS and Gram Vikas.

In Chhattisgarh, India, FRANK Water is working with tribal Baiga communities so that they can access clean drinking water in the Kabirdham District. Since Chhattisgarh’s formation as a state in 2000, its local people have been severely exploited for their minerals and forests. They are without basic services, so FRANK Water works with them to develop advocacy methods, plans and roads for change. For two years, FRANK and its local partner SAMERTH have worked with 12,000 people across 36 communities.

In eastern Andhra Pradesh, the remote tribal regions of the eastern Ghats are left without basic water services. This lack of water devastates health, agricultural dependencies and other activities, causing the tribal people to develop at much slower rates. FRANK and one of its partners, VJNNS, are working to establish 10 gravity-fed water systems that will give 10 communities safe water through the earth’s natural gravitational pull. This will serve nearly 3,000 people.

FRANK Water also works in Madhya Pradesh, where fluoride is rampant in its natural water sources. Too much fluoride can lead to yellowing teeth and fluorosis, an incurable disease. FRANK is helping to establish projects to reduce the fluoride concentrations in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, which is currently at 1.0 to 1.5 mg/l. These projects work with the communities to build lasting solutions such as low-tech rainwater harvesting. In three years, FRANK and PSI’s work will have provided safe drinking water to 3,000 people, while also training local communities on how to monitor water quality.

FRANK Water’s Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh projects similarly combat the issue of inaccessible clean water in rural and slum areas.

Improving access to water and better sanitation are FRANK’s main objectives. FRANK has worked in India for nearly 10 years, securing water access and sanitation with its local partners. The programs focus on its projects, advocacy and research and development, aiming to improve poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.

FRANK is frank. The safe water proponent is transparent and self-reflective. While small, it “packs a punch.”

Lin Sabones

Sources: FRANK Water 1, FRANK Water 2, FRANK Water 3, Vimeo
Photo: Trendhunter