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’.

The project’s findings will enable the development of policy and industry frameworks aimed at the promotion of more ethical and sustainable ways of consuming.

The Website

This website has been mainly designed to facilitate communication about the project. Here you’ll be able to read about the progress of our research, as well as the activities of our research team. But, as the project progresses, we want the website to become more than a simple announcements forum. First, we want to engage as many people as possible in thinking about the complex meaning of being a ‘consumer’ in contemporary Australia. Second, we want to build up a detailed national picture of what ethical and sustainable consumption looks like; in terms of products and retail spaces, in terms of political activism, and in terms of industry and government initiatives.

Currently, the site contains some basic information about the project, as well as a page on the research team. We have also included our working glossary of terms (a work in progress which we hope will be of use to others). As the site undergoes further construction, we will include a page of important links, news feeds, project publications, and other material. We also hope to become interactive, with the inclusion of a blog and Twitter feed.