Now there's a question worth pondering!
When we talk about ethics, we're talking about values, and when we talk about values, we're talking about divergence. This is one of the reasons why the human race can be so beautiful! But not always... In short, ethics is the moral sense, the set of moral principles that underlie an individual's conduct.
But what is an ethical or responsible purchase?
There are often synonyms for ethical purchasing, such as responsible purchasing or fair purchasing. The Observatoire des achats responsables (France) offers an interesting definition: "Any purchase that integrates, in a spirit of balance between stakeholders, requirements, specifications and criteria in favor of environmental protection and enhancement, social progress and economic development. The purchaser seeks efficiency, improved quality of service and optimization of overall costs (immediate and deferred) within a value chain, and measures its impact."
It's a way of buying that takes into account all the components of a product, from its production to its end-of-life, and its overall impact on the environment, the economy and social aspects. In short, it's the act of thinking about the consequences of your purchase for you and the world around you.
For many, this behavior was initially adopted through the purchase of organic and local food. Others have now integrated it into electric cars, ethical investments (RRSPs or stock market), household equipment and, of course, ecological and responsible clothing.
In all cases, ethical purchasing has a positive impact in several ways:
1. The company, the worker and the community
Buying locally or from small, ethical businesses helps them.
What's more, the local economy will certainly grow. Indeed, the more purchases are made, the more jobs are created. Favoring local purchasing means that profits can be redistributed in the community through income for employees.
With fair trade, small businesses are protected from the imposition of contracts from companies with large influence, and are entitled to fair, consistent prices that ensure good working conditions.
Ethical shopping also helps to reduce the wealth gap.
Indeed, by encouraging greater rights for local farmers and producers, ethical shopping helps to reduce the wealth gap and ensure that wealthier business owners offer better wages and working conditions to their workers.
Indeed, ethical trade promotes better living conditions for its workers. This applies to wages, working hours and worker health and safety. It also has the effect of empowering local communities. A fair wage, for example, enables workers to provide for their families' education. Increased local knowledge has a positive impact on the community as a whole. Better financial support also helps to eliminate health problems in the community.
2- The environment
One of the primary environmental benefits of ethical goods is that they aim to reduce both consumption and damage to natural resources. An ethical company will aim to minimize the use of chemicals while sourcing according to strict codes of ethics so that the environment recovers now and for the future.
Secondly, ethical purchasing encourages environmentally responsible innovation. The more you want, the more you get. Consumers have immense power to pave the way for an ecological approach and products that could propel the market towards a much more acceptable social and environmental era.
3-The growing power of consumers
The advent of various computer technologies, and most recently social marketing, has given consumers a heightened awareness of corporate behavior, as well as the opportunity to influence production in many industries.
As customers, we literally have the opportunity to communicate more directly with companies, but also to use social networks to express our choices and opinions.
There are many ways to make ethical purchases, and the best way to start will always be to take it one step at a time, one purchase at a time.
When it comes to ethical or responsible clothing, for some this might mean shopping second-hand, for others it might mean keeping their wardrobe to a minimum with key timeless garments, and for another group of individuals it might mean buying all their clothes ecologically.
What's your next step?