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10 Ways to Become a More Ethical Consumer

10 Ways to Become a More Ethical Consumer

Consumerism is an important part of the economy, but if you wish to remain ethical while making purchases, it is vital to consider implementing a few key ideas. Remember: each time you shop, you’re voting with your dollars. In other words, you can truly make a difference in your local community and the entire world by keeping ethical practices in mind.

1. Check Labels

One of the biggest hurdles that an ethical consumer needs to overcome is learning how to carefully check labels. Sadly, many of the clothing items that are for sale right now in your favorite stores were made in a sweatshop overseas. You can avoid perpetuating this disturbing violation of human rights by ensuring that your clothes were made in countries that do not have sweatshops (such as the U.S. and Canada). There are also several companies, including Fair Industry, Cottonfield USA, and Red Dog Sportswear, that utilize ethical manufacturing practices. Alternatively, you can purchase clothing from a secondhand shop to help the environment.

2. Ensure You Are Buying the Real Thing

Another big issue that consumers face is learning how to tell if they are buying a counterfeit item. Although most people assume that these items will only be found on street corners, the reality is that there have been many stores caught selling illegal merchandise. High-end items are often counterfeited, so it is wise to look at consumer guides to learn how to spot a fake Rolex (for example). Keep in mind that illegal merchandise is typically made in sweatshop conditions. When you combine this knowledge with the inferior quality of these items, it is quite simply never a good idea to buy one.

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3. Investigate Store Labor Disputes and Other Issues

Labor disputes can be a big indication of whether or not a business shares your interest in ethical consumerism. For example, Walmart has a long history of labor disputes and employee strikes, so it makes sense to carefully examine all of these issues to determine whether or not you feel comfortable shopping there. In one recent instance, several Walmart stores were closed without warning. Many employees alleged this was due to a disagreement over payroll. If you look closely enough, you will find similar news about a long list of stores. Analyzing this information can help you make ethical decisions.

4. Consider Shopping at a Co-Op

Co-ops are operated with their own built-in democracy, and this makes it much more likely for their employees to be treated fairly. Although most people think of a grocery store when they hear the phrase “co-op,” the reality is that there are co-ops in a wide array of businesses, including appliance manufacturing. One prime example is Mondragon Corporacion Co-operativa, which has become one of Spain’s largest industrial groups without cutting wages or instituting sweatshop conditions. When you shop from co-op sources, you also support fair wages.

5. Support Local Stores with Locally Made Goods

If part of your ethical concerns involve reducing your carbon footprint, then it is imperative to begin turning to local goods that are sold by local merchants. For example, consider what happens when you shop at a farmer’s market instead of a chain grocery store. Most of the fruit and vegetables that are sold at a grocery store were shipped in from all over the country and, in some cases, all over the world. On the other hand, a farmer’s market will sell similar items that were grown nearby. The reduction on carbon emissions from transportation alone makes the local goods a much more ethical choice.

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6. Shop at Stores That Align with Your Ideological Principles

Are you aware that every store you shop at has ideological principles? Whether it’s taking a firm stance against equality or donating money to a specific politician, each business has an impact on their local community. With this in mind, ethical consumers carefully examine their local and chain store choices before spending any money. After all, failure to do so could help a business that is committed to promoting a cause you don’t believe in.

7. Walk Away From Items That Aren’t Ethically Made or Sourced

This is often one of the hardest things for people to do, especially when they are new to the idea of ethical consumerism. However, if you don’t take a stand for your beliefs by voting with your dollars, you are essentially throwing your support behind practices that violate your personal ethics. You may need to stop buying your favorite brand of jeans or pick a new favorite restaurant, but this will have a positive impact on the world.

8. Always Bring Your Own Bags

It is convenient to use the store’s plastic bags for all of your purchases, but this continual practice is damaging the environment. By simply buying your own cloth bags or reusing old plastic bags at the grocery store, you can reduce your carbon footprint by an average of six pounds per month. If every consumer took this action, we would experience a noticeable improvement in the environment and a massive reduction in waste. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 5% of plastic grocery bags are reused right now; however, each of us has the ability to make a difference.

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9. Reuse Things as Much as Possible

Another way to support the environment, while also making sweatshops less profitable, is to reuse things as much as possible. For example, you can wash out sauce jars and turn them into storage containers. This will keep you from buying storage containers and will prevent glass jars from ending up in a landfill.

10. Take a Stand Against Unethical Practices with a Boycott

Some people believe that boycotts don’t work, but all of the evidence proves that this thought process is incorrect. Darden Restaurants experienced the difference a boycott can make first hand when their profits plummeted in the second quarter of 2012 after the company indicated they did not support the Affordable Care Act and would cut hours as a result. After the impact of the consumer backlash became clear, Darden’s CEO decided to change the company policy and embrace Obamacare. This highlights the power of taking a stand for what you believe in by voting with your dollars.

Conclusion

With a little practice and some research, you’ll be able to begin shopping with ethics and the environment in mind. You can even extend these practices to special event shopping such as looking for Christmas gifts, which may inspire others to become an ethical consumer.

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Featured photo credit: irinamozelova via morguefile.com

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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