Made Trade is making it easy for consumers to be educated about their purchases and shop their values. Made Trade has partnered with a variety of businesses that have unique social impacts, curating “exceptionally designed, ethically sourced goods from makers around the world.” For ease of the consumer, Made Trade has created symbols which consumers can easily associate with a value such as USA Made, Sustainable, Fairly Traded, and more. This is great for shoppers who are just beginning their conscious consumer journey.
‘Ethical’ can be a loaded word and, sometimes, even intimidating for those beginning to explore the world of conscious consumerism. This term is widely used by brands both big and small to add another dimension to their story, to provide some kind of transparency about their products, and to market their company’s values. Ethically made, ethically sourced, ethically crafted...the list goes on. So what does ethical actually mean? Let’s take a few steps back and think about the supply chain.
To start off, think about a product you recently purchased and ask yourself some basic questions: Where did that product come from? What materials were used to make it? Who made it? How much do you think it cost to make that product? Now, compare that amount to what you paid for it. Does the product reflect what’s important to you? Does that brand stand for any of your values? I think this is a great exercise for identifying ethical characteristics in any brand or product, whether it’s a shirt, a coffee table, a piece of jewelry or even a chocolate bar.
‘Ethical’ is a word that can mean a lot of different things, depending on the category and especially the person making the purchase. A few ways I’ve seen ethical used are:
Referring to the materials used to make the product and how the materials were responsibly chosen.
How the brand practices sustainable sourcing.
Not being made with child or slave labor.
Not testing on animals, or made with any animal products.
Implementing fair trade principles, ensuring workers were paid a liveable wage and given safe working conditions.
Needless to say, ethical is a complex word, but it’s so exciting to explore, and important to break down, especially as a discerning consumer.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to decide if the values of a brand reflect their own ethical values. Chances are you’re not going to find that all-in-one perfect product that encompasses every single one of your ideals, but as a consumer it’s important to identify your values and how your purchases can reflect and actually support those values.
One of my top priorities in considering a product is how people were treated -- it’s incredibly important to me that I know the makers of the goods were paid fair wages, provided a positive environment to work in, and were well taken care of. I choose to support brands who prioritize fair labor practices, working very closely with the artisans and makers crafting the physical products.
So how can you support ethical brands? It’s pretty simple. It goes back to your basic economics class, supply and demand. As consumers, we create demand through what we buy -- every single day. Everytime we spend money, it reflects what we, as consumers, want and brands supply those goods to us. If we demand transparency in our supply chains, fair pay for workers, and vote with our dollars, we can make a difference together. So it’s up to you to ask questions and support ethical brands who are having a positive impact by purchasing their goods, spreading their messages, and educating other people in your life to become more discerning consumers as well.
I encourage you to pick a few of these ethical characteristics that are near and dear to your heart and focus on shopping those values. It’s okay to start small. Maybe just focus on just Made in America products, it will really open your eyes to how disconnected we can be from consumerism and empower you to take action. Made Trade will be launching this fall and is a great resource for beginning to shop your values. Make sure to sign up for their email list to be the first to know when you can shop on Made Trade!
Thanks to Made Trade for sponsoring this post & being part of The Honest Consumer community!