Ethical consumers and sustainability citizenship

From ‘guilt free’ Fair Trade chocolate to non-Sweat fashion and palm oil free products, during the past decade the notion of ‘ethical consumption’ has gained increasing prominence in wealthy capitalist nations around the world as a critical concept, market category and diverse set of everyday practices.

Though the term may have entered into mainstream parlance in recent years, ‘ethical consumption’ doesn’t refer to a clearly defined set of practices but rather can be seen as a convenient catch-all expression for a range of tendencies within contemporary consumer economies. The phrase potentially embraces a myriad of concerns in relation to commodity production and provenance, from animal welfare, labour standards, Fair Trade and human rights to health and wellbeing, and environmental and community sustainability. It also suggests an equally wide range of stances toward consumer culture.

If the excessive consumption of commodities is seen as a major contributing factor to anthropogenic climate change, then the very notion that one can shop or consume one’s way to a better or greener world would seem to fundamentally contradict forms of sustainability citizenship.

However if we understand the ethical turn as opening the way to a more fundamental critique of consumption, not only in terms of commodity capitalism but in terms of the carbon-intensive lifestyles and consumption practices associated with late modernity more broadly then sustainability citizenship might usefully draw some lessons from the rise of ethical consumption.

If the field of ethical consumption is diverse in terms of the concerns it encompasses, one point of commonality is the emphasis placed on the politicization of everyday lifestyle practices, particularly in relation to sustainability.

Read the complete article by Tania Lewis.

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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