Making your wallet worldchanging can work wonders. By reinforcing market signals for good, we can help corporations do the right thing. But how do you judge the merits of the products that you buy? There's the rub.
We've covered a number of approaches before -- the Corporate Fallout Detector, Greener Choices and Conscious Consumer Marketplace, to name just a few -- as well as experimented with compiling our own information.
Ethiscore, Ethical Consumer Magazine's online shopping guide, claims to trump them all. It's not free, which will no doubt reduce its impact, but it does have a cross-issue, comprehensive approach others lack, rating companies on a variety of issues and criteria, from human rights to sustainability.
Sites like these represent a growing trend towards socially-conscious shopping:
Ethical shopping has become a big business in recent years, with large companies beginning to realise the profits to be had from cleaning up their acts. The so-called "ethical consumption" market in the UK is now worth an estimated £20bn a year, while boycotts of demonised companies lost them around £2.6bn a year. British consumers spent £140m on products bearing the Fairtrade logo in 2004, a year-on-year rise of 53 per cent.
That's not chump change, and the movement is definitely growing -- all of which bodes well for the rise of the transcommercial corporation.
(great grab, Judith!)
This is a great article. Here is an open letter, along the same thread, too, that a friend emailed me, and I am forwarding to all readers of this site.
May 29, 2005
I wonder if magazine editors are courageous enough to print a Letter To The Editor that is critical to one of their biggest advertisers. This is such a letter, and the moral courage of magazine editors is under test. But this wasn't meant to be offensive, but rather to educate.
Please refer to the full-page advertisement at the back of The Vancouver Courier, today, by Choices Markets, titled, "New Zealand's Finest Choice." This ad is chock-full of imported products.
Sad and disappointing, in my view.
Why? Here are some reasons that you, and Choices management, may not be aware of:
One. UTNE magazine hired a Ph.D. (in several disciplines) conducted a "think" about how just one simple act, by any citizen, could solve the world's problems, instantly. Sounds impossible? The scientist's answer was simple: You must eat nothing that is not grown within 200 miles of where you live! And, he came up with complete, nutritious recipes of organic food grown entirely in his locale, which happened to be a desert. Pretty tough to live entirely on cacti and desert shrubs? Not really, according to this scientist, or UTNE. They said they felt full of vitality and energy on such a local diet. By eating locally, climate-change problems could be eliminated almost overnight, and the retail price of gasoline would crash and burn.
Two. Harpers magazine printed a cover-page story about a doctor who had a surprising, unorthodox therapy for terminal pancreatic cancer patients. He was extending the life of four-fifths of his patients. How? Partly by getting these patients to eat only food from their "ancestral land."
Three. Two weeks ago, I saw statistics showing Vancouver was the six or seventh lowest-income city in Canada. We have little manufacturing done here. As a salesrep myself, I've seen many struggling food manufacturers here that grocery buyers seem to ignore. Are these buyers even aware that, for example, there is at least one certified organic salad oil made in a small towns in BC's interior?
What does Choices Markets' management think of the above information? More importantly, will Choices' customers demand Choices Markets for local products? It is up to the public to put their money where their heart is. Let's see if Vancouverites can really walk their talk!
(Kyoto Discount Program - over 100 area shops/eateries offering 5% to 60% off to cyclists when they arrive on a bike.)