Ethical consumerism (alternatively called Expired ethical consumption , ethical purchasing , moral purchasing , ethical sourcing , ethical shopping or green consumerism ) is a kind of consumer activism That is based on the concept of dollar voting . [1] It is practiced through ‚positive buying‘ in which ethical products are favored, or ‚moral boycott ‚, which is negative purchasing and company-based purchasing. [2]

The term „ethical consumer“, now used generically, was first popularized by the UK magazine Ethical Consumer , first published in 1989. [3] Ethical Consumer magazine’s key innovation was to produce ‚ratings tables‘, inspired by the criteria-based approach the then emerging ethical investment movement. Ethical Consumer ‚negative ratings (and from 2005 overall scores) across a range of ethical and environmental categories such as ‚animal rights‘, ‚human rights‘ and ‚pollution and toxics‘, empowering consumers to make andhically informed consumption choices campaigners with reliable information on corporate behavior. Such criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings both in providing business information and in business-to-business corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings such as those provided by Innovest, Calvert Foundation , Domini, IRRC, TIAA-CREF and KLD Analytics . Today, Bloomberg and Reutersprovide „environmental, social and governance“ ratings to the marketers. [4] The not-for-profit Ethical Consumer Research Association continues to publish Ethical Consumer and its associated website, which provides free access to ethical ratings.


Global morality

In Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market As An Ethical System (1998), John McMurtry argues that it does not matter what moral choice, and that it is not enough. This mirrors older arguments, especially by the Anabaptists , eg Mennonites , Amish , that one must accept all personal moral and spiritual responsibility of all harms done to any distance in space or to anyone by one’s own choices. It is often suggested that Judeo-Christianscriptures further direct followers to the practice of good stewardship of the Earth, under the obligation to a God who is believed to have created the planet for us to share with other creatures. A similar argument presented to a secular humanistpoint of view is that it is simply better for human beings than to acknowledge that the planet supports life only because of a delicate balance of many different factors.

Spending as morality

Some trust criteria, eg creditworthiness or implied warranty , are considered to be part of any purchasing or sourcing decision. However, these terms refer to broader systems of guidance that would, ideally, cause any decision to be made to provide services or services that are not intended to affect the moral rather than the functional liabilities of the entire production process. Paul Hawken , a proponent of Natural Capitalism , refers to „comprehensive outcomes“ of production services as opposed to „culminating outcomes“ of using the product of such services. citation needed ] Often, moral criteria are part of a much broader shift away fromcommodity markets Towards a deeper Service Economy Where all activities, from growing to harvesting to processing to delivery, are regarded share of the value chain and for qui Consumers are „responsible“.

Andrew Wilson, Director of the UK’s Ashridge Center for Business and Society, argues that „Shopping is more important than voting,“ and that the provision of money is the most basic role we play in any system of economics . [5] Some theorists believe that it is clear that we have a high moral rate of risk, ie, we do not really care about it, we are practicing a form of simple hypocrisy .

In an effort by churches to advocate moral and ethical consumerism, many have become involved in the Fair Trade movement:

  • Ten Thousand Villages is affiliated with the Mennonite Central Committee [6]
  • SERRV International [7] is partnered with Catholic Relief Services [8] and Lutheran World Relief [9]
  • Village Markets of Africa sells Fair Trade Gifts from the Lutheran Church in Kenya [10] [11]
  • Catholic Relief Services has their own Fair Trade mission in CRS Fair Trade [12]

Growing various use of the term

As large corporations have tried to position themselves as moral, principled or ethical organizations, the definition has become wider and different ways to different groups of people. For example, McDonald’s started to sell salads and has a corporate social responsibility blog. Ethical Consumerism can be seen as a movement in marketing , which may reflect changes in the practices of businesses. Particular areas of interest for large businesses are environmental impact and the treatment of workers at the bottom of the Organizational hierarchy. This change reflects an increasing awareness of ethical issuescorporate identity among mainstream consumers .

Standards and labels

A number of standards, labels and marks have been introduced for ethical consumers, as follows:

  • B corporation
  • Co-op Brand
  • Dolphin safe
  • EKOenergy for electricity agreements
  • Equal Exchange
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy label
  • Fairtrade
  • Free-range poultry
  • FSC-certified sustainably sourced wood
  • Grass fed beef
  • Green America Seal of Approval
  • Halal (religious standard)
  • Kosher (religious standard)
  • Local food
  • Made in USA
  • MSC-certified sustainably sourced seafood
  • No Pork No Lard (semi-religious standard)
  • Organic food
  • Organic Trade Association
  • Product Red
  • Rainforest Alliance certified
  • Recycled / recyclable
  • Respects Your Freedom
  • Shade-grown coffee
  • Social Accountability 8000
  • Union-made
  • Vegan

Along with disclosure of ingredients, some mandatory labeling is required in all developed nations . This practice has-been extended In Some Developing Nations , eg, Where every item caries the name, phone number and fax number of the factory Where It Was Made so a buyer can inspect icts conditions. And, more importantly, to prove that the item was not made by “ prison labor „. Such labels have been used for boycotts, as when the goods made in Germany was introduced in 1887.

These labels serve as some of the most reliable validation process, some capital instructional , [13] much as a brand name or a nation’s flag. They also have some social capital , or trust, in which they must be validated.

Some companies in the United States, though currently not required to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint , are doing so Voluntarily by changing Their energy use practices, as well as by Directly funding (through carbon offsets ), businesses That are already sustainable gold are Developing gold improving green technologies for the future.

In 2009, Atlanta ’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood est devenu the first Carbon-Neutral Zone in the United States. Seventeen merchants in Virginia-Highland allowed their carbon footprint to be audited. Now, they are partnered with the Georgia Valley Carbon Sequestration Project-thousands of acres of rural Georgia-through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). [14] [15] The companies involved in the partnership of the Verus Carbon Neutral seal and prominently declaring the area’s Carbon Neutral status. (CCX Ceased Carbon Trading at the end of 2010 due to inactivity in the US carbon markets, [16]were made to still be facilitated.) [17] [18]

Over time, some who? The theorists suggest, the amount of social capital or trust invested in nation-states (or „flags“) will continue to decrease, and that place in corporations (or „brands“) will increase. This can be done by national sovereignty to reinforce national standards in tax, trade, and tariff laws, and by placing the trust in civil society in such „moral labels“. These arguments have been a major focus of the anti-globalization movement , which includes many broader arguments against the amoral nature of markets as such. However, the economic school of Public Choice Theory pioneered by James M. Buchanan has offered counter-arguments based on this theory of ‚amoral markets‘ versus ‚moral governments‘.

Areas of concern

The Ethical Consumer Research Association , the alternative consumer organization, collects and categorises information of more than 30,000 companies according to their performance in five main areas, composing the Ethiscore:

  • Environment: Environmental Reporting, Nuclear Power, Climate Change, Pollution & Toxics, Habitats & Resources
  • People: Human Rights, Workers Rights, Supply Chain Policy, Irresponsible Marketing, Armaments
  • Animals: Animal Testing, Farming Factory, Other Animal Rights
  • Politics: Political Activity, Boycott Call, Anti-Social Finance, Genetic Engineering, Company Ethos
  • Product Sustainability: Organic, Fairtrade, Positive Environmental Features, Other Sustainability. [19]


GfK NOP , the market research group, has made a five-country study of consumer beliefs about the ethics of large companies. The report was described in a Financial Times article published on February 20, 2007 entitled „Ethical consumption makes mark on branding“, [20] and was followed by [21] The countries surveyed were Germany, the United States, Britain , France and Spain. More than half of respondents in Germany and the United States believes in a serious deterioration in standards of corporate practice. Almost half of those surveyed in Britain, France and Spain held similar beliefs.

They would like to pay more for ethical brands.

The most ethically perceived brands were The Co-op (in the UK), Coca-Cola (in the US), Danone (in France), Adidas (in Germany) and Nestle (in Spain). Coca-Cola, Danone, Adidas and Nestlé did not appear anywhere in the UK’s list of 15 most ethical companies. Nike appeared in the lists of other countries in the UK’s list.

In the UK, The Co-operative Bank has produced an Ethical Consumerism Report [22] since 2001. The report measures the market size and growth of a basket of ‚ethical‘ products and services, and valued UK ethical consumerism at GBP 36.0 billion (~ USD 54.4 billion) in 2008, and GBP 47.2 billion ( USD 72.5 billion) in 2012.

A number of organizations Provide research-based assessments of the behavior of companies around the world, along em Assessing ethical dimensions Such As human rights , the environment , animal welfare and politics . Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 that provides the Green American Seal of Approval and produces a „Responsible Shopper“ guide to „alert consumers and investors to the problems they face.“ [23]The Ethical Consumer Research Association is a not-for-profit workers‘ co-operative founded in the UK in 1988 to provide information on the companies behind the names and to promote the use of consumer power [24] which provides an online searchable database under the name Corporate Critic [25] or Ethiscore. [26] The Ethiscore is a weightable numerical rating, which is a guide to the ethical status of companies, or a specific area. „alonovo“ is an online shopping portal that provides similar weighted ethical ratings termed the „Corporate Social Behavior Index“. [27]

Related concepts

Conscientious consumption

The consumer rationalizes unnecessary and even unwanted consumption by saying „it’s for a good cause“. [28] As a result, the consumer buys pink ribbons during the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month , green products to the environment, candy and popcorn from school children, greeting cards and gift wrap from charities, and many other, often unwanted objects. The consumer should be satisfied that the price is fair, whether a small cash donation would be more or less effective, or whether the selling of goods would be conspicuous with the ostensible mission, such as when sports teams sell candy.

Some of these efforts are based on the concept of consumer buying and selling a product. [28]

Alternative giving

Main article: Alternative giving

In the area of ​​gift giving, the term „gift“ is used in the context of „gift“. The „recipient“ receives a gift card, while the actual gift item [29]


Critics argue that the ability to effect structural change is limited in ethical consumerism. Some cite the preponderance of Niche markets have the actual effect of ethical consumerism, [30] while others argued That information is limited Regarding the outcomes of a Given purchase, Preventing Consumers Informed from making ethical choices. citation needed ] Critics have also argued that the distribution of wealth prevents consumerism, of ethical or otherwise, from fulfilling its democratic potential. [31]

One study suggests that „Buying Green“ serves as a license for unethical behavior – in their 2009 paper, „Do Green Products Make Us Better People?“, [32] Nina Mazar, Chen-Bo Zhong state the following:

In line with the halo associated with green consumerism, people act more often than ever before. However, people are less likely than others to be in a position to become a member of the public. Together, the studies show that they are more closely connected to our social and ethical

In a 2010 The Guardian article, British environmental writer and activist George Monbiot argued that green consumers who do not articulate their values ​​are part of „a catastrophic mistake“ on the grounds that such consumerism „strengthens extrinsic values“ self-advancement „), thus“ making future campaigns less likely to succeed „. [33]

See also

  • Anti-consumerism
  • Critical consumerism
  • Carrying capacity
  • Cause marketing
  • consumerism
  • Ethical banking
  • Ethical eating
  • Ethical investing
  • frugality
  • Green brands
  • Intentional living
  • Socially responsible investing
  • Sustainable living
  • vegetarianism
  • veganism
  • ecologism
  • Organic food culture


  1. Jump up^ *Giesler, Markus; Veresiu, Ela (2014). „Creating the Responsible Consumer: Moralistic Governance Regimes and Consumer Subjectivity“. Journal of Consumer Research . 41 (October): 849-867. doi : 10.1086 / 677842 .
  2. Jump up^ „Why buy ethically“ . Ethical Consumer . Retrieved 2007-05-03 .
  3. Jump up^ „20th Birthday!“ . . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  4. Jump up^ „Is ESG Data Going Mainstream?“ . . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  5. Jump up^ „Ethics is in the eye of the spender“ . Sustainability at LSE . Retrieved 2016-04-06 .
  6. Jump up^ „Our History“ . Ten Thousand Villages . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  7. Jump up^ „Our Story“ . SERRV . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  8. Jump up^ „Catholic Relief Services“ . . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  9. Jump up^ „Home – Lutheran World Relief | Working to End Poverty, Injustice and Human Suffering“ . . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  10. Jump up^ „About Village Markets and Fair Trade“ . . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  11. Jump up^ “ ‚ God’s love is what they pass on‘: Fair trade is a mission for the Wittenberg University grad, students and faculty“ . The Lutheran. 2012-03-29 . Retrieved 2013-08-18 .
  12. Jump up^ [1] ArchivedJuly 11, 2011, at theWayback Machine.
  13. Jump up^ „Coop Brand“ . Coop . International Cooperative Alliance.
  14. Jump up^ Jay, Kate (November 14, 2008). „First Carbon Neutral Zone Created in the United States“ . Reuters.
  15. Jump up^ Auchmutey, Jim (January 26, 2009). „Trying on carbon-neutral trend“ . Atlanta Journal-Constitution . The Atlanta Journal-Constitution .
  16. Jump up^ „ICE cuts staff at Chicago Climate Exchange-sources“ . Reuters. August 12, 2010 . Retrieved 3 February 2016 .
  17. Jump up^ Weitzman, Hal. „End of US carbon trading looms“ . Financial Times . Retrieved 3 February 2016 .
  18. Jump up^ Lavelle, Marianne (November 3, 2010). „A US Cap-And-Trade Experiment to End“ . National Geographic . Retrieved 3 February 2016 .
  19. Jump up^ Rob Gray, Dave Owen and Carol Adams, „Accounting and Accountability: Changes and Challenges in Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting“
  20. Jump up^ Grande, Carlos (2007-02-20). „Ethical consumption makes mark on branding“ . . Retrieved 2011-12-18 .
  21. Jump up^ „entitled ‚Ethical consumption makes mark on branding ‚ “ . Financial Times . Retrieved 2007-05-03 .
  22. Jump up^ „Ethical Consumerism Report“ . Co-operative Bank . Retrieved 2010-09-03 .
  23. Jump up^ „American Coop: Responsible Shopping: About“ . . Retrieved 2011-12-18 .
  24. Jump up^ „Ethical Consumer Research Association: About“ . . Retrieved 2011-12-18 .
  25. Jump up^ „Research & Ratings: About the Ethiscore“ . Corporate Critic . Retrieved 2011-12-18 .
  26. Jump up^ „Research and ratings“ . Ethiscore . Retrieved 2011-12-18 .
  27. Jump up^ Aalonovo Corporate Social Behavior Index ArchivedJune 24, 2008 at theWayback Machine.
  28. ^ Jump up to:b Gayle A. Sulik (2010). Pink Ribbon Blues: How to Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health . USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 111-132. ISBN  0-19-974045-3 . OCLC  535493589 .
  29. Jump up^ „Giving well is hard to do: so here’s my seasonal guide“ . London: The Guardian. 2005-12-22 . Retrieved 2007-05-03 .
  30. Jump up^ Devinney, Timothy. „Value vs. Values: The Myth of the Ethical Consumer“ . Policy Innovations . Policy Innovations . Retrieved 11 June2015 .
  31. Jump up^ Gee, Tim (March 26, 2014). „When did fair trade become a consumerist concept?“ . New Statesman. New Statesman . Retrieved 11 June 2015 .
  32. Jump up^ Do Green Products Make Us Better People? (Psychological Science, April, 2010) Nina Mazar, Chen-Bo Zhong
  33. Jump up^ Monbiot, George (12 October 2010). „It goes against our nature, but the left has to start asserting its own values“ . The Guardian . Retrieved 29 December 2010 .