I remember when I was in primary school, people started to talk about environmentalism and groups like Greenpeace started to make headlines in mainstream media. Some companies embraced this trend, while others figured it was just a phase that would pass quickly.
More than 30 years later, this environmental awareness trend has well and truly proven that it is here to stay. Its importance continues to grow and its message continues to spread across the planet. It is one that has changed our belief systems, the way they do things and is a key factor in people's purchasing decisions.
Well now there is a new trend emerging, and it is one that trend watchers are also saying is here to stay. In fact Trendwatching has identified it as one of the Top 5 Trends for 2018. They have termed it as the Glass Box Wrecking Balls, and say "a revolution in transparency is just getting started".
It is a trend where consumers are wanting to be associated with companies which are transparent in their values and/or are taking action to change the world, whether it be in their own backyard or globally. These issues are wide and varied and cover many different causes, from the banning of underweight models by french fashion houses to avoiding products produced in 'sweat shops' throughout Asia.
This is where we are starting to see the emergence of ethical consumerism.
So What Is Ethical Consumerism?
According to The Guardian "Being an ethical consumer means buying products which were ethically produced and/or which are not harmful to the environment and society."
What this includes is very broad as it could be as simple as purchasing organic produce from farmers in your local area to purchasing products that assist communities and/or causes throughout the world.
Why Do We Think This Trend Is Happening?
There are probably a million reasons why this is happening but information technology is definitely playing a key role from both a consumer and business perspective. In short:
- Knowledge is indeed a powerful thing and the internet gives us the ability to easily access information at our finger tips wherever we want and whenever we want. It is making us, as individuals, more aware of what is happening throughout the world ... both the good and the bad
- From a business perspective, it is making big business more accountable for their actions, but it is also giving small businesses the ability to access markets throughout the world that were once the domain of multi-national companies.
And this is the wave of change that is happening and one that is opening up new opportunities for mum and dad entrepreneurs, small businesses, social enterprises and artists. Everyday different businesses are popping up all over the world, and they now have the ability to take their products/services and messages to the world. Ethical businesses can take on many forms and here is just a few examples:
- Businesses whose purpose is to provide an avenue for other small businesses to sell their products/services. This is the concept of our business, Shambhala House
- Community-minded businesses that support different causes or people, like one of our suppliers Yin Jewelry For The Soul
- Business that follow and often surpass fair trade practices in developing countries, which Yin Jewelry also does
- Social enterprises that have actually been established by disadvantaged or disabled groups, like two of our suppliers Yayasan Cheshire Indonesia (disabled group) and Our Precious One (hearing impaired organisation: pictured below).
Can Your Purchase Really Make A Difference To Someone's Life?
The short answer is yes and that difference can be huge. I remember one of my first experiences in Indonesia was when a small group of us were at a restaurant. After some time, we paid the bill and then another person appeared carrying a sick child. Our money was given straight to this person who then got into a tuk tuk (local bike taxi) to go to the doctor. Our bill would have amounted to about $25.
I have seen first hand the difference a few dollars can make to people's lives in my 12+ years of living overseas in developing countries. I have also seen a change from a reliance on charitable donations to the popping up of entrepreneurial businesses and social enterprises. The difference the latter is making in people's lives is not only financial, but also giving them a sense of worth in their communities and so much more.
Will This Make The World A Better Place?
Well in the words of Richard Branson from his book 'Screw Business As Usual':
"If business people consistently acted in such socially and environmentally responsible ways, I firmly believe that the world would be a better and fairer place. Justice would prevail. Poor people would be helped out of poverty, business a usual would be well and truly screwed, and everyone would have the means by which they could improve their own lives without depending on charitable handouts for years on end. The great thing is that all of this will also be good for business and, ultimately, will be the only way that businesses can thrive in the future."
To join in with the change:
And thank you for being part of making the world a better place for all.