What does it really mean to be
an "ethical consumer"?
Really, it can mean a lot of things!
As consumers we have a great impact on economic trends...
As independent peeps, we tend to focus on products that enhance our fabulous lives; as “marrieds” we have a great deal of influence on our mate's appearance and the items they purchase; as parents we make decisions that effect all of our family members and their future consumption habits.
What we must always keep in mind is that many of these product choices can either negatively or positively effect our environment, increasing our individual carbon footprint. To be certain we take dainty, little carbon steps --leaving minimal waste-- we must become more aware of the products we purchase as well as their lifecycle and origin.
The goal: to become an ethical consumer by maintaining a positive balance within the products we use to survive, maintain health, keep up with current trends, and look great.
Before you pick up a product or make an impulsive purchase, try to imagine the product benefit, its effect on the earth, the amount of use you will get out of that product, and its disposal.
It is not to say that every single thing that you buy should come in a recycled package, contain no additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. To be quite honest, although more and more companies are now adopting sustainable practices, it can difficult at times to find an eco-alternative to what we have been taught for many years to consume!
In my humble opinion, it is all about balance. If a product brings forth more benefit than it does damage to the environment, then it is most likely a better choice. To be more aware of your purchasing habits and to make shifts concerning those habits [towards saving energy and utilizing products that minimize our carbon influences] are GREAT contributions!
It’s also very important to be more knowledgeable about labels and the ingredients that are in the products we buy. Must I make a reference to the phrase “you are what you eat”? We need to be more aware of what we put in/on our face, our bodies... OUR SKIN!
Per the handy Gorgeously Girl App (a great shopping buddy), here’s an example of some top “red alert” chemicals, commonly found in beauty/hygiene products, that should be avoided:
1) Coal Tar (found in some toothpastes)
2) Fragrance (often contain hormone-disrupting chemicals)
3) Hydroquinone (found in skin lighteners/facial moisturizers)
4) Aluminum (found in deodorants and in cosmetics as color additives)
5) Triciosan (used in anti-bacterial products)
6) P-Phenylendiamin, 1, 4 Benzenediamine, and p-Phenyldiamin, and 4-Phenylenediamine (chemicals found in hair dyes)
7) Lead and Mercury (difficult to detect- *tip: look for lead-free lipsticks)
For more in-depth green product tips, see the Gorgeously Green site!
The key is to be more observant-- and I’m not talking about how short that chick’s skirt was, or how trashy her makeup looked. [Quite frankly, if it was eco-friendly, came in a recycled cardboard package, and donated a percentage of profits to Haiti relief efforts -- more power to her!]
We research the schools we want to go to, the “potentials” we would like to date (thanks to facebook), and the vacations we would like to take… how about paying more attention to the small things we often take for granted? --The stuff that we are exposed to on the daily.