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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Americans Prefer Ethical Brands, Dominate Online Shopping

American consumers prioritize risk-taking, adventure and living an exciting life when it comes to making purchases, according to global research by HSBC. This structural shift among U.S. consumers’ purchasing habits is prompting companies to rethink existing marketing and business strategies. Source: Apparel

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The meaning behind today’s modern consumerism

In the modern era of fast fashion, we seemed to have developed an amnesia about the sweatshop labor practices we rallied against in the 1990s, or maybe a misconception that garment “factories” are just people sewing fabric, breathing chemicals and even dying when cheap infrastructure fails. Source: Global Times China

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Thinking of giving up red meat? Half measures may end up increasing animal suffering

To animal protection advocates, a pledge to eat less meat is good news. Even a small step like Meatless Mondays is generally better than nothing. All too often, however, aspiring ethical eaters choose a favored animal or two to exclude from their diet, without actually reducing their total animal consumption. Despite good intentions, they may end up increasing animal suffering. Source: LA Times

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Ethical arguments won’t end factory farming. Technology might

Bruce Friedrich is the Executive Director of The Good Food Institute in Washington, DC, an organization that partners with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to create cleaner and safer food products. The institute has a very specific aim: identify and promote market-based alternatives to our current food production system, which is dirty, inefficient, and unsustainable. Source: Vox

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Researchers survey ‘ethical consumerism’ views

Research at Purdue University draws a connection between lifestyles choices and demographics of consumers and how they view not only their own social responsibility in their buying decisions but also that of corporations. Source: Phys.Org

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The Place of Food in Caring for the Self and Others

In 1825 the French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin declared, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” By this he seemed to mean that he could tell something about a person’s character and class by what they eat. Source: ABC Australia