The What and Why of Ethical Consumption

For 35 years I didn’t care where my products came from as long as they were cheap. I mean come on. Who doesn’t love a good deal? I’d shop for holiday decor after season. Always start at the clearance rack, and never keep a great find to myself. “Oh you like my pants? $4 at JCPenney!”

And honestly I still love a great deal, but a few years ago I started down a journey which led me to where I am today. Working to be a more ethical consumer.

“Ethical Consumption is about making the connections between a product, where that product originated and in what context it has been produced. It requires YOU to think before you shop, to consider just how your lifestyle affects other people and communities, as well as the environment...Ethical consumption is NOT about depriving yourself, nor is it a competition to see who has the most virtuous shopping list. It is about recognising the power that YOU have, as a consumer of goods and services, in influencing business to be more sustainable, ethical and accountable.” 1

How did this journey start? I wish I could pinpoint one thing, but it’s truly been a series of choices that Trent and I have made over the years that have changed our thinking. In 2009 we took a trip to Honduras and met countless very happy people with very few worldly possessions. That made an impact. That same year we made the choice to start using as much of our “extra” money as possible to work on eliminating our debt. Buy new clothes or pay off my student loan? Buh-bye student loan!

The weird thing is that between 2009 and 2019 we still accumulated a ton of stuff. Having two kids definitely helped in that, but somehow we ended up with hundreds of books. Extra closets full of clothes. Cupboards full of kitchen gadgets. And then we bought a camper, and boy did it open my eyes to how little we actually need to survive!

In addition to that, the uptick in ethical businesses and my fascination with minimalism caused me to really consider how much I was buying and where I was buying it from. Could I buy less, make a positive impact in the world, AND reduce my waste? Though I’m still learning what that looks like for me I know the answer is yes!

Do I still work on finding good deals? Yep! If I really need something I’ll wait for it to go on sale or buy it with a coupon. I spend more time shopping in thrift stores or searching for things on Facebook marketplace. And when I need to buy a gift I try to find things from small businesses that exist to make a positive difference in the world. I may spend more than I would buying off the sale rack at Target, but it’s fun knowing that my purchases are positively impacting real humans!

I don’t know where you’re at, but if you’ve never considered how your purchases affect the world I’d like to encourage you to do a little research. Look up minimalism. Research ways to eliminate waste. Search #purchasewithpurpose on instagram. Decide today to take one step toward becoming a more ethical consumer. And if you’d rather just have someone tell you what to do… Sign up for a Kaloway Coffee subscription. Each month we’ll send you the coffee(s) of your choice, and you can rest knowing that your coffee is taking a broken world and making it better! 


1 https://developmenteducation.ie/feature/ethical-consumption/

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