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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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