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Ethical Purchasing – Your Vote Counts!

By Alison Mitchell, a Friend of Willow Park

One of the best ways to live lightly is to find out about the impacts of our purchases on people, animals and the environment and then choose to limit those impacts as much as possible.

However, if you were to start researching these issues yourself, you will quickly find the task overwhelming and quite probably give up.  Who has the time to research what a company has been doing with respect to social and environmental justice, who owns that company and their record, and which company is about to take over another and what impact might that have on their sustainability agenda?

Fortunately, there are many tools to help out.

One of the best I have found for social and environmental impacts is the ‘Shop Ethical’ Guide that you can purchase in hard copy or as an app for your ‘phone (http://www.ethical.org.au/).  I first began using this guide before smartphones and apps and although I still refer to it, I now find I have a better understanding of what to purchase to limit my impact.  I also follow this group on social media and receive their monthly newsletter for updates.  You can search the site for brands or categories of products and view a rating system to help you think about and decide on your purchases.

Ethical Consumers Australia also have a great newsletter (‘Otter’), an online shopping tool, and an app called ‘Good On You’ that rates fashion brands for impacts on people, planet and animals (see them all here: http://ethicalconsumer.org.au/).

Another great site and app that you can find here: http://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/sustainable-seafood.html helps you to choose seafood based on its impact on the ocean system.

If you want to delve further into ethical issues, check out this great interactive map: https://ejatlas.org/.

Of course, there are many more tools and none of these are perfect, but they are a great way to get you started on your journey to live more lightly so that others may simply live.

Another great and much easier tool is to choose to purchase local, organic, bespoke products and talk with the producers about their processes and values.  Your local farmer’s market is a great place to start.

It is always worth remembering how much power you hold in your choices – every time you purchase something you are voting for the production process so try to be informed and vote ethically as much as possible.