Ethical goods must be understand on a personal level in order for one to decide how they want to consume and contribute on this Earth. I say this because many times people create unnecessary controversy and play to the emotions or fears of other people to get them to act in a certain way. This is done in the name of good as much as it is bad. So when we speak of ethical goods it must be stated firmly that it is up to you to decide what is ethical, what is right for you and this world, and what is not. But this understanding should be a life long project and needs to consist of a desire to be educated and understand. You have to make an effort to try and do the right thing for your own self. This means thinking of others and yourself when making purchases.
We can first think of people when speaking of ethically purchasing goods. There is no doubt that there is exploitation in the world of manufacturing. People living more as slaves or indentured servants than actual valued people. They simply are another cog in a machine to make a particular good. We realize now, and I hope that is why you are here, that people should ALWAYS come before things. Which means that the conditions of workers should be that in which both their minds and their souls can breathe.
So we first need to think of fair wages. It is very important that the workers in any industry and in any country in the world are paid a fair and livable wage. This is what is meant by fair trade wages. It is easy in some countries to employ people at non-living wages where everyday life is a struggle of surviving rather than living peacefully. There are no options besides working in a factory to simply put a roof over your head and food in your mouth and family. Often times the goods needed to survive are controlled by the company you need to work for. Sometimes even just to obtain clean water because the factory has polluted the water supply.
Ethical goods and shopping take into consideration the working conditions of the people making and providing your products. Look for fair trade symbols on goods to be assured that there is first a consideration for the people and then second for the product provided. You also need to be aware though that specific numbers and facts and figures are not always important. Some countries cost of living is just less than many in the western world. Their wages not need be equal dollar for dollar with other works in another part of the world. A living wage is one that within the context of the community a person lives, their basic needs are provided for as well as an allowance for personal development.
The second factor of what is an ethical good was briefly mentioned above, that of how the planet itself is being treated by the process in which we obtain our goods. Flying things to your home from all over the world without thought of the environment is not a sustainable way to live. If we ruin the very environment in which we live it will not matter if we have the cheapest products available.
The Earth is a living being whether you realize it or not. We make as much sense to ants as the Earth does to us, but that does not make us think we are less important. The complex nature of he entirety of the Earth, in which we are a part of and we think ourselves complex, is beyond our scope. But as we use our arms and senses to understand and take care of our body, the Earth is helped by how we take care of it and in return takes care of us. Buy goods that take into consideration the environment. That is the bottom line. Organic, pesticide free, sustainable, etc. Look for these labels, do some research but keep learning and striving to be a good consumer. In fact, the Guayusa Tea I drink from the company Runa follows all these practices and provides a different morning pick-me-up than coffee. A simple, ethical, and delicious change.
Here is the final thought on ethical foods and fair trade ideals, for you: Try your best to consume consciously and with others and the Earth in mind. But if you have a set back do not feel guilty or turn negative just continue to make small steps toward a more sustainable living. This entire idea is a process and one which you cannot expect undergo in a night. Start with reducing paper towels or walking instead of driving and/or shopping at local stores and farmer’s markets. Keep taking steps toward love of all existence and you will start to be a smart and conscientious consumer but also a wonderful citizen of Earth.
Going green is another way to look at changing our consumption: for more information from Sunstone Holistic please check out their website! Going Green!