As our world continues to change and evolve, many of us worry that it may not be moving forward in a way that is for the best. We grow concerned about the sustainability of our environment, chemicals used in our food supply, and how people are treated each day inside the businesses we interact with. There are many organizations, groups, and philosophies that seek to study this and make a meaningful contribution toward positive change. Two of the more noted ones are Conscious Capitalism and Fair Trade.
Based upon a movement co-founded by John Mackey, the Co-Founder of Whole Foods, it is the philosophy of how business should be run. In his interview with Forbes, he defines the tenants of Conscious Capitalism as, “higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management. The four are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. The tenets are foundational; they are not tactics or strategies. They represent the essential elements of an integrated business philosophy that must be understood holistically to be effectively manifested. Higher purpose and core values are central to conscious business and all the other tenets connect back to these foundational ideas.”
Fair Trade has existed since the 1950s and is a certification, more than a movement. It helps us, as shoppers quickly identify how the product has been manufactured, how the people who work for the company are treated, and know that the entire process is ethical. According to a recent Forbes interview with several experts, the process to gain certification is quite extensive. “Generally taking anywhere between 6-9 months for a producer to achieve Fair Trade Certified status.” And, it doesn’t end once the certification is achieved. The “audit process is repeated annually, and the Fair Trade USA Factory Services team provides in-country support to ensure everything runs smoothly on an ongoing basis.”
WHERE TO SHOP
Of course, there are other ethical practices and programs which companies can subscribe to. At the end of the day, what matters most is making a deliberate effort as a consumer to source and shop those businesses who actively participate in manufacturing and distributing services that are aligned with your personal beliefs around sustainability and eco-friendly practices. The question then becomes, how can you find out where to buy? And, more importantly, how do you know what they are saying about being clean/sustainable/good-for-the planet is really true?
Other things to consider before you shop may include:
- Is the business 100% local? (Do they produce everything from locally sourced/secured materials, and employ local staff?)
- Acceptable levels (for you) of chemicals, additives, etc., in the product.
- Sustainability initiatives for the business.
- Charitable pledges and initiatives of the business.
The conscious part of consumerism comes down to understanding the choices we get to make before we buy anything. It may be that choosing the “better” product costs more, and that may not always be the option we are able to make. As a conscious consumer, we have the power through information and understanding to know when we can and should invest in better for the world around us, and when we need to accept a substitute. Over time, the hope is that we will be able to make a big enough impact through knowledge to help everyone continually move towards more “better” choices.