5 easy ways to make ethical choices in Australia
With the wealth of information out there, and more being discovered every day, making conscious choices about the products we buy may seem all too hard sometimes. Not only does it require some digging, but often the options we think are fair can turn out to be dishonest to their consumers or disloyal to their workers. But finding out information, locating stores and shopping conscientiously doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are our top five tips for making ethical consumer choices in Australia.
- Dress local
If you can and when you can, make sure you buy locally. Purchasing from boutique stores, artists at craft markets, or finding locally made items is a great place to start, as you can quickly ask questions to the product maker/seller, and you can often see exactly where the product has come from. Australia has a few good websites that can help you source ethical stores for your more mainstream clothes too, the most comprehensive being Ethical Clothing Australia, who give grades to local brands. These tool will help you keep an eye on the production process involved in making your latest fashion.
- Buy from the farm or farmers markets.
It’s true that home-grown tastes best, and what better way to support local industry that buying straight from the source. Many farms these days will have shops or side-of-the-road stalls that you can purchase fresh produce from, and many more attend local markets on a regular basis. Find out when your community market is on and make a point to attend. Even if all you buy are some fruit and veg, at least you can see it for yourself and ask any questions to the vendor on the spot. And don’t be put off by the dirt or funny shaped potatoes; when food is real and fresh it’s also unique, so take pride in buying it so close to the source. You can be assured of food quality and know you’re helping a local out at the same time.
- Support Fair Trade
When it comes time to search for a unique or interesting gift, support your nearest Fair Trade outlet or supplier. Other stores such as our Seven Women store, and organisations such as Oxfam, will also stock Fair Trade items as well. The importance of shopping Fair Trade can’t be underestimated, which is why we are so proud at Seven Women to have accreditation for our shop as we support and train local Nepali women in textiles and production. Fair Trade items have been carefully tracked, from the first sketches on paper to their delivery at your door, to ensure that the entire supply chain treats workers with fairness according to the law. Many countries do not monitor or enforce their labour force to ensure humane and safe working conditions, and thousands of workers are trapped in appalling circumstances for very little money. With a Fair Trade accreditation you can be sure the gifts you are buys are free of exploitation and discrimination.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
A relatively simple and easy way to ensure ethical practices at home is to reduce your waste altogether. Cutting back on unnecessary (and often frivolous) items like throw-away toys, plastic packaging, and one-use-only containers, can help save the environment and your cheque-book. And it’s so simple to do as well; easy steps like remembering your canvas bags when shopping for groceries, finding another use for old coffee jars, and buying a Keep Cup or glass bottle for your daily tea and water needs, can drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce as individuals. And when you can’t find another use for an item, make sure you recycle everything you can, to ensure as little as possible of household waste ends up in landfill. Changing daily habits can be easier than you think, so give it a go!
- Educate others
Tell everyone you can about these little steps, and make an effort to educate them on the importance of being a conscientious consumer. We can all make an impact just by tweaking how we do our daily tasks, and little things like introducing a friend to your favourite ethical clothing store, or buying your mum a reusable coffee mug for Christmas, can help spread the knowledge around. The more people who get on board with these easy yet meaningful changes, the greater an impact they will have, and the better off our world will be. This isn’t preaching; it’s fact. The story of Seven Women is testament to the power of small deeds, so get out there and spread that love!