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Ethical consumerism

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Electric wire reel reused in a furniture ecodesign.jpg

What communities can do[edit]

Overview, see right hand column for more

  • promote fair trade and become a fair trade community
  • promote second hand, charity shops and used bookstores
  • promote and take part in Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas
  • buy recycled products
  • organise a Carrotmob campaign
  • find eco product supplies
  • support or set up zero waste suppliers, eg see News item October 7, 2013, in right hand column
  • support sustainable, green or eco-tourism initiatives
  • practice event greening
  • promote closer to home tourism
  • lobby for Government action to enforce the use of bio-degradable plastic bags by supermarkets, or banning plastic bags altogether
  • encourage the use of Reusable shopping bags
  • encourage use and appreciation of local and Community resources


Break Free From Plastic

Fossil Free, a project of 350.org

Wake Up Call

Why it matters[edit]

ethical consumerismW - buying things that are made ethically i.e. without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals or the natural environment. This generally entails favoring products and businesses that take account of the greater good in their operations. [1] An extension of the idea, doing more with less, overlaps with the first part of Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.

Sustainable consumption controversy[edit]

"Yet individual initiatives alone do not necessarily help to build strong, healthy communities (although they can free up time that could lead to greater community involvement), nor can they address the structural obstacles to genuine consumer choice the lack of organic produce in the supermarket, for instance. Some critics even argue that, pursued in isolation, individual initiatives can be counterproductive.

"An "individualization of responsibility", as political and environmental scientist Michael Maniates notes, distracts attention from the role that such institutions as business and government play in perpetuating unhealthy consumption. Moreover, to the extent that individuals see their power residing primarily in their pocketbooks, they may neglect their key roles as parents, educators, community members, and citizens in building a society of well-being." [2]

See also: Criticism (of Ethical consumersim)W


  • "No political challenge can be met by shopping." George Monbiot [3]
  • "Faced with a choice between the survival of the planet and a new set of matching tableware, most people would choose the tableware." George Monbiot [4]
  • “Anyone who believes in infinite growth on a finite planet is either mad or an economist.” D. Attenborough [5]

Consumer protection[edit]

Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation, which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.

Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission, ombudsmen, Better Business Bureaus, etc. A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.

Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law.

Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism. W

Fair trade[edit]

Fair trade is an organized social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability. Members of the movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as higher social and environmental standards. This movement requires particular actions of the purchasing managers [1] and other personnel, that is directly responsible for purchasing and can affect the level of green consumering. The movement focuses in particular on commodities, or products which are typically exported from developing countries to developed countries, but also consumed in domestic markets (e.g. Brazil and India) most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, gold and 3D printer filament. The movement seeks to promote greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency, and respect. It promotes sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers in developing countries. W / See also Fair trade debate W


Carrotmob is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California. It uses buycotts (a form of consumer activism where a community buys a lot of goods from one company in a small time period) to reward a business's commitment to making socially responsible changes to the business. Carrotmob also refers to a global movement of community organizers who use the Carrotmob tactic of consumer activism as a way to help change businesses in their communities. In a Carrotmob buycott, businesses compete to be the most socially responsible business, and then a network of consumers spends money to support the winner. W

Sustainable tourism[edit]

"Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy." Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping. It can be related to travel for leisure, business and what is called VFR (visiting friends and relatives). There is now broad consensus that tourism development should be sustainable; however, the question of how to achieve this remains an object of debate. W

Eco hotel[edit]

Eco hotel is a hotel or accommodation that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the environment. The basic definition of a green hotel is an environmentally responsible lodging that follows the practices of green living. These hotels have to be certified green by an independent third-party or by the state they are located in. Traditionally, these hotels were mostly presented as Eco Lodges because of their location, often in jungles, and their design inspired by the use of traditional building methods applied by skilled local craftsmen in areas, such as Costa Rica and Indonesia.

Today, eco hotels also include properties in less "natural" locations that have invested in improving their "green" credentials. W

Ecolodge Saint-M'Hervé semi-enterré.JPG

Green conventions[edit]

Green conventions or green meetings are conventions which are conducted in ways which minimize the environmental burdens imposed by such activities. Green event planners apply environmentally preferred practices to waste management, resource and energy use, travel and local transportation, facilities selection, siting and construction, food provision and disposal, hotels and accommodations, and management and purchasing decisions. The practice is known as "event greening" or "sustainable event management".

Green conventions, meetings, conferencing and events are part of an international movement to achieve a sustainable world economy and livable planet. W

Volunteer travel[edit]

Volunteer travel, volunteer vacations, volunteer tourism or voluntourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. In recent years, "bite-sized" volunteer vacations have grown in popularity. Volunteer vacations vary widely in scope, from low-skill work cleaning up local wildlife areas to providing high-skill medical aid in a foreign country. Volunteer vacations participants are diverse but typically share a desire to “do something good” while also experiencing new places and challenges in locales they might not otherwise visit. W / See also Volunteer travel, Controversy W Potential volunteers may wish to satisfy themselves that projects involve local communities sufficiently, meet locally idetified needs and are consistent with local community aspirations.

News and comment[edit]


May 4 What could tourism become, post-Covid? Former "destinations" can build new livelihoods. And make new urban-rural connections [6]

Madrid Shared Space.jpg

Jan 19 Spain: Can we have a regenerative and circular tourism? As a Mallorca resident, Daniel Wahl thinks it's possible [7]



Nov 20 How the MyMizu app is creating community and fostering sustainability in Japan [8]

Jan 9 Japan's Seikatsu Club Cooperative challenges consumerism through sustainable consumption [9]


Ways to Have a More Meaningful and Sustainable Festive Season, Mirella Ferraz, Dec 13 [10]

Finding the Power to Choose: A Revolution in Democracy Itself by @James0Perry, Nov 26 [11]


London news: London’s first eco-friendly, human-powered gym is opening, Mar 19 [12]

Ciclismo en Amsterdam.jpg

Amsterdam: First plastic-free aisle is an example for other supermarkets to follow, Feb 28 [13]

Allotments - geograph.org.uk Sheffield.jpg

Ethical consumerism UK: The plastic-free stores showing the big brands how to do it, Jan 17 [14]

Nearly 1m tonnes every year: supermarkets shamed for plastic packaging, Jan 17 [15]


Allotments - geograph.org.uk Sheffield.jpg

Ethical consumerism UK: Shoppers dreaming of a green Christmas as ethical sales boom, Dec 15 [16]
Six simple ways to cut back on plastic, Dec 11 [17]

9 Ideas to Celebrate the Maker Movement During 'MAKE SMTHNG Week', Nov 21 [18]

This Holiday Season, Join the Maker Movement During 'MAKE SMTHNG Week', Nov 16 [19]


Environment quality: David Attenborough urges action on plastics after filming Blue Planet II, Oct 15 [20]

Allotments - geograph.org.uk Sheffield.jpg

Ethical consumerism UK: Supermarkets must stop using plastic packaging, says former Asda boss, Oct 12 [21]

Central Park New York City1.jpg

NYC will get its first zero-waste store this spring, thanks to Lauren Singer, Apr 12 [22]

A Shareable Explainer: What is Values-based Banking? Apr 4 [23]

Madrid Shared Space.jpg

Spain: Cataluña prohíbe la entrega gratuita de bolsas de plástico en todos los comercios, Mar 31 [24]

Allotments - geograph.org.uk Sheffield.jpg

Ethical consumerism UK: Pressure mounts on UK supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles, Feb 22 [25]

The woman whose mum inspired her to track ethical food, Feb 13 [26]


Why the 'Break Free From Plastic' movement is a really big deal, Sep 16 [27]

How Can We Create a World Where Plastic Never Becomes Waste? January 23 [28]


Eco-geeks hold open source alternative to UN climate talks, September 21 [29]


In.gredients — Possibly the Coolest Grocery Store Ever, October 7 [30]

Green Tourism: From “Do Less Harm” to “Leave Things Better” [31]



Nov 23 - Dec 3 MAKE SMTHNG Week, 2018: Fri-Mon


December 2 - 10 - inaugural MAKE SMTHNG Week, a worldwide event focused on the maker movement


Circa in Israel 2.JPG

November 28 - International Buy Nothing Day

"a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption", and kick off a season of supporting local economy and family. In North America, Buy Nothing Day is held on the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving (a day earlier than the international day). US sustainable community events / Wikipedia, Activities

180px-2012 World Fair Trade Day in Taiwan Blue Vela.jpg

May 24 - 31 - World Fair Trade Week


Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Protest at Tufts University.jpg

February 13 and 14 - Global Divestment Day, "Let’s make fossil fuels history." / Fossil Free


  • Buy Nothing Day site through the Adbusters Media Foundation
  • Buy Nothing Christmas, includes alternative gift ideas, for example a set of coupons to print and give to family members that include two free homemade desserts, three back massages, or an evening of child care.
  • Consumer Resources for Buying Green Products on Green Wiki
  • GoodGuide Transparency Toolbar
  • 'Good Stuff? A Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy', March 2004, is a free online publication from the Worldwatch Institute. It traces what goes into the production, use, and disposal of 25 common consumer items, including compact discs, cell phones, baby goods, and chocolate, and sheds light on hidden impacts that consumers may be unaware of. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the air inside a typical U.S. home is on average 2-5 times more polluted than the air just outside - and in extreme cases can be 100 times more contaminated - largely because of the use of chemical cleaners and pesticides. Good Stuff is available via worldwatch.org where it can be downloaded for free.
  • Plastic Free Living from Plastic Free July

Apps for sustainability[edit]

Slavery Footprint Earth Accounting

Citizens data initiative[edit]

  • Only 20% of e-waste from 2016 was documented, collected and properly recycled. [32]


Technology Used to Protect Our Planet from consumerprotect.com


Ecotourism research, Griffith University


See also[edit]

Interwiki links[edit]

Wikipedia: Ethical consumerism, Anti-consumerism, Carrotmob, Degrowth, Eco hotel, Fair trade, Fair trade debate, Green brands, Green conventions, Greenwashing, Post growth, Second-hand shop, Sustainable tourism, Used bookstore, Volunteer travel

Greenwiki: Greenwash

SourceWatch: Greenwashing

External links[edit]



This page includes Creative Commons Licensed content from the Sustainable community action wiki on Wikia.
The list of authors can be seen in the history, link via drop down menu at top left of page.