A topic that came at our event last week was the issue of inspiring people to shop ethically when they are on a budget. The common thread that surrounds socially-conscious shopping is that is usually double the price for the same quantity. While often times this is true, it is also important to realize why these products cost more. They cost more to give a fair value to the artisans that make them, to account for the sustainable products and processes used to create them, and to support the communities where these crafts flourish. That being said, if you are on a budget and wonder how you can contribute to the ethical consumerism movement, here are some tips:
- Shop second-hand or vintage: By shopping second-hand or vintage, you are reducing the amount of products that get disposed and using your consumer “vote” to vote against harmful and unethical consumer product production practices.
- Buy less pieces but purchase quality, ethical, fair trade or sustainable products: Instead of purchasing multiple “mainstream” consumer products, consider investing in a few key ethical pieces.
- Learn about where the products you regularly use come from: Being educated is half the battle won. Know about the alternatives and options out there, so that when you or a friend make a purchasing decision, you are making the most educated decision possible.
- Create an ethical household budget: When planning how much you spend on basic household products, consider accounting of household goods that are environmentally-friendly – a few small purchasing changes might be able to fit into your existing budget!
- Stop thinking price and start thinking value: As a consumer, you need to stop evaluating the price of every product and start realizing the long-term value of that product instead. The investment you make in the purchase of an ethical product now, will result in a social profit in the future. Your purchase could stop the degradation of the environment, could help an artisan support his family in rising out of poverty and could even allow a community to retain their heritage and craftsmanship.