Ethical consumerism, on a budget
By: Jailyn Duong
Now is the time for us to become more aware of how our actions impact not only our planet, but the human beings that inhabit it. We are a society that has come to raise awareness of all the ways we are hurting the earth. We sacrificed parts of our diet to save animals and preserve the world yet we are blind to how we continue to let people pay the price for the clothes we wear on our backs through way of purchasing from unethical companies.
The new “trend” in fashion is ethical consumerism and you may or may not be aware of your role in this movement. Ethical consumerism by definition is “a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of dollar voting.” Simply put, this is the concept of consuming products from companies that are produced without harming the environment or society. To ethically produce is to promote a workplace in which labor conditions and compensation support the wellbeing of its workers. Brands that mass produce their clothes disregard these practices and value selling their clothes for cheap even if that means their workers have to work unbearable hours in a factory at a low wage. And because a majority of these factories are overseas, we fail to think about these consequences.
Though there may be some who are aware of the ramifications of ethical consumerism, there are tradeoffs that prevent people from taking part in this movement. The most prominent one is affordability. In order to maintain humane working conditions, fair wages, and appropriate working hours, companies have to charge more for their products because it costs more to produce them. Stores such as Reformation and Outdoor Voices preach sustainable clothing production yet their overpriced clothes would be a strain on the average American’s wallet, let alone a college student.
Your protest to unethical business practices however, does not have to require pulling out the big bucks for brands that ethically produce. Rather it can be to make a conscious decision to buy less. Companies continue to use these business practices that harm our planet and people because consumers still buy from them. Therefore investing in one item and using it for a long period of time gives less money into companies that unethically produce. Think about your trusty winter coat. Investing in winter coats is a one time payment but the use can last up to years. Ethical consumerism does not just lie in the hands of those who can afford it, it is a multifaceted concept that can also take form in tracking what you buy and considering the use you will get out of it the next time you go and make a purchase. Your wallet will not only thank you but the earth and the people that live on it will too.