Putting your money where your mouth is - how to shop ethically.

I once heard someone say, ‘you vote with your dollar’ and that sentiment really stayed with me. In a world where we have so much choice, it meant I had to think not just about the item I was buying but who I was buying it from. I needed to buy a new mascara the other day and I realised that this was my chance to support a business that reflects my values, so I chose a great product that doesn't test on animals. 

However, not testing on animals is just one value that I hold. I would also like to support businesses that are kind to the environment, don't exploit workers and don't engage in dodgy business practises. But given that I am not even sure how many items I put in my grocery trolley each week how am I meant to keep track of which companies are actually ethical and which are not? Let’s take on the mascara example. You’d think that buying from The Body Shop would safeguard your anti-animal testing ideals, right? Nope, it turns out that it’s owned by L’oreal who in some cases, still do test on animals [1].  

So what's a girl in need of thicker, darker lashes to do? Well while ‘voting with your dollar’ may be a little trickier than first thought, it is by no means a dead end. In Australia for instance, Shop Ethical is a wonderful app and website resource for trying to figure out which products to buy. Run by the Ethical Consumer Group, a community based not for profit, the Shop Ethical app can make your shopping trips pretty eye-opening. Simply plug in the brand name, or even easier scan the barcode and the Shop Ethical app will give you information on the brand's performance in the areas of: 

  • The Environment
  • Animal Testing
  • Social behaviour including workers rights
  • Business Practices

And with information like this out there, it seems like people are choosing to vote with their dollar. A national newspaper reported that the ‘retail sales of Fairtrade products have boomed’ [2] with consumers choosing companies like Oxfam and supporting Fairtrade certified chocolate enabled farmers in Ghana to build schools, toilet blocks and clean-water wells. These are great efforts.

It’s exciting to think that there’s a change in how we understand and use our spending power, and it seems that the next logical step is to get cracking on making the connections happen between sustainable businesses and ethical shoppers.

So here at Gather By, we’re aiming to learn, teach and network to help drive this growth towards sustainability and food security. One part of our business lies in natural beekeeping and making bioactive honey that can be used for medicinal purposes while another part of our business is about building a platform that makes it easier for consumers to connect with ethical products, services and workshops that represent their style and values.

You can search our comprehensive directories for businesses and organisations that are doing great things. From butchers selling organic, free range meat to community gardens to beekeeping courses.

We also want your input into building these directories, so if you know a business that is doing great things for the environment, please visit our suggestions page and give them the props they deserve.  

Let’s promote and strengthen these positive changes in as many ways as possible, vote with your dollar for businesses doing life and environment sustaining work and most importantly, regain a sense of power for a brighter future. 

 

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