Welcome to the official website of the research project, ‘The rise of ethical consumption in Australia: from the margins to the mainstream’.

This project is funded for three years (2013-15) under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project scheme, and is based at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

This nationwide project will be the first of its kind in Australia, and comes at a time when our nation and the world are facing considerable challenges—economic, environmental and social—as a result of excessive consumption. We have noticed an increasing focus on the ethical dimensions of consumption, and a sense that issues around the environment, sustainability, working conditions, animal welfare, fair trade, and other matters of ethical concern are becoming more prominent when people make, sell, buy, use and throw away consumer items.

We want to find out more about what people are thinking about and what people are doing in this sphere, and we are interested in many different perspectives. So in this study, we will be conducting research with consumers, retailers and producers, as well as key industry and consumer bodies, NGOs, and other stakeholders involved in the ethical marketplace to gather a comprehensive understanding of what we are calling a mainstreaming of ‘ethical consumption’.


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The best recipe for ethical chocolate

Cocoa starts as cacao, a colorful pod that ripens to colors ranging from bright yellow to deep burgundy. The seeds are fermented, dried, and processed into cocoa, then chocolate. Cocoa trees grow in a thin equatorial band in places such as Ecuador, Peru, and Vietnam, but over 70 percent of production is in West Africa.

Source: Altanet.org

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Are Ethical Brands Greenwashing?

As a responsible shopper looking to do the right thing, you might think if a brand is openly talking about their environmental or labor practices, they’re probably legit. And if they show you a picture of a happy worker or an NGO partner, it’s probably a sign of good intent and practices, right?

Source: shift.newco.co

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Superfoods have a dark side, but here’s something you can do about that

Every effort is a step in the right direction, but sadly, although food miles with imported superfoods are indeed an issue (eating a diet loaded with such foods uses up to four times the energy and subsequently produces four times the emissions of an equivalent domestic diet), the greater problem lies in exactly what it takes to mass-produce these items.

Source: SBS

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What’s a brand got to do to be ethical these days?

The rise of the conscious consumer has been increasing rapidly over the past years, forcing brands to re-evaluate their ethical stance and to incorporate purpose and CSR into their approach. But is this now enough in the modern day to gain consumers’ trust?

Source: The Drum

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Consumers will pay more for social responsibility

A growing number of mainstream consumers say they will pay more for food and beverage products produced by socially and environmentally responsible companies, said Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner at Natural Marketing Institute.

Source: Meat and Poultry

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Why Kiwis are embracing minimalism

An Otago University study into consumer attitudes and choices running since 1979 has identified a marked increase in the numbers of so-called “progressive” consumers who make buying decisions based on their impact on the environment and other people. In the past decade this progressive consumer group has more than doubled in size to the point where one in five of the study’s 2000 subjects share the view.

Source: Stuff.co.nz