Thursday, 30 October 2008

Who is the ethical consumer?

I was on Labour Behind the Label's blog and came across an entry entitled 'Who is the ethical consumer?' It makes some very interesting points like...

'ethics is not an optional extra, an either/or: it’s a minimum standard, based on human rights. “I’m not wearing this, it’s real fur,” “I don’t shop at Next because their trousers make me look like a hippo,” “I can’t buy those pants, they were made in exploitative conditions.” That’s the kind of category that ethical decision-making belongs in.'

I agree we should have this mindset to how and who we buy products from but companies are aware of our realisation that we as a society are not happy with the ethical or non-ethical implications that come with buying their products so are jumping on the ethical bandwagon and having fair trade lines or concessions within their stores which LBL feels eases the pressure on them and doesn't actually address the real problem as their systems for, manufacturing and shipping goods throughout the whole supply chain doesn't change. And why would they bother when...

' you can please the same consumers by stocking a few organic, fair trade cotton lines or a concession from People Tree, which does nothing for your existing factory base?'

Instead they feel and I have to agree that

'the ‘ethical consumer’ needs to be everybody, and needs to want nothing less than across-the-board respect for workers’ rights.'

They also raise the point tho that an item can carry a fair trade or organic label but still isn't actually an ethical piece of clothing.

'It may be made from organic cotton, but in a factory where trade union rights are suppressed; it could be hand-stitched by a Fair trade women’s cooperative in Nepal, but then flown or shipped to the UK at significant cost to the environment.'

So I guess that 'to say a product – or a consumer – is ‘ethical’ is to oversimplify.'

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