Clothes, food, technology. These are things everybody needs but also have strong associations to ethical problems. Shopping ethically is a growing concern for many people, yet the idea that ethical purchases are not affordable is pervasive. In addition, the constant bad news surrounding the practices of companies makes it seem impossible to be an ethical shopper. All of this leaves many of us with one question:

How can I shop ethically?

It is a question being asked a lot these days. And even though it might not seem easy, a little extra attention can go a long way, and it is not as expensive as it may seem. Here’s a few easy ways to shop ethically.

Do Your Research

In the fight to shop ethically, research is everything.

The biggest companies can afford to market themselves as ethical to shoppers. This allows them to manipulate concerned consumers into purchasing their products.

Luckily, there are ways to know what you’re buying before you buy it., for instance, ranks products in a variety of categories based on different metrics. Much of this information is available for free on the site, though some more in-depth information requires a subscription.

Doing research on products is a good way to be sure that what you’re buying is an ethical choice. In addition to researching, remaining vigilant in reading labels to spot companies notorious for ethical violations, such as Coca Cola and Nestle, is a key element in shopping ethically.

Thrift Shop

Goodwill currently operates over 2,500 stores in the United States. Savers operates over 270 stores. There are also countless independent thrift stores, providing good clothing for a low price. For consumers looking to ethically shop, thrift stores provide an affordable way to avoid incentivizing the abusive practices of the larger clothing industry.

Unethical labor practices is the biggest concern proponents of ethical consumerism have regarding the clothing industry. Though a variety of clothing sources exist that do not support this, many of these sources are not cost-effective. By purchasing clothing at a thrift shop, fashion-conscious activists can both avoid feeding into unethical labor chains and support their local communities.

Make it a Treat

Let’s get this out of the way: most ethical chocolates and coffees will be more expensive than their less ethical alternatives. Unfortunately, the exploitation of the developing world that is all too common within these industries is, more often than not, a cost-cutting measure. When cocoa farmers in the $16 billion-per-year chocolate industry receive between $30 and $100 per year, this is a measure by those in power to cut costs.

This does mean that, in general, most ethical chocolates and coffees will be a bit less friendly to your wallet. But by treating these items as occasional treats, you can save up for the ethical, and better, brands and indulge guilt free.

Shopping ethically is just as much about what we don’t buy as it is what we buy. When chocolate from Côte d’Ivoire, where CNN stated slavery within the chocolate industry is “normal,” is purchased, shoppers incentivize the highly unethical practice. Though more expensive and ethical options may not be purchased with the same regularity, purchasing them exclusively while buying chocolate less exclusively both supports ethical production of chocolates and rejects the lack of ethics within the chocolate industry.

Ethical consumerism is a increasing concern. This is good, but it is also easy to feel nihilistic when faced with a structure which, previously, hasn’t had to take things into account. But by being smart and patient, consumers can find easy and affordable ways to shop according to ethics.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: Ethical Consumer, Time Green America, CNN Blogs
Photo: Natura Magazine

For this holiday season Beyonce is continuing to work with Goodwill Industries International in support of major charity efforts to help create new jobs. Beyonce has partnered with Goodwill Industries International this last summer when the charity event received over 27,500 pounds of clothing, which is equivalent to more than 800 hours of free job training at Goodwill career centers.

This holiday season Beyonce will continue her second leg of the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which contains 15 concerts. Goodwill is encouraging concert goers to helps support their goal of helping families and creating jobs by donating clothes. The more clothes that Goodwill receives the more jobs they are able to create across their international locations.

The charity effort has gained the title the #BeyGOOD initiative and there are a couple of ways that people can participate. Those with tickets to one of Beyonce’s World Tour concerts are encouraged to donate clothes at their local Goodwill (keeping the receipt) or to bring donations to the concert site. The first 100 people to donate items or show their receipts the day of the concert enter in a chance to be upgraded to Beyonce’s VIP areas.

The donations collected at each event will be sold in local communities, and the money will go towards Goodwill’s employment programs that help support people with disadvantages and disabilities. Goodwill career centers provide a number of helpful services for those struggling to find employment. The career centers offer various training opportunities, sessions on resume building, interviews, and professional dressing. The centers also supply access to important tools such as fax machines, computers and telephones. Child care services, youth mentorship, transportation and financial education are also available through the help of Goodwill.

With the help of Beyonce, Goodwill Industries International is expecting to receive major donations this holiday season and ultimately make a great impact on those without jobs, and families in need.

– Chante Owens
Sources: Look to the Stars, Atlanta Black Star
Photo: Youtube