Ethical consumerism recognises that every purchase decision comes with a moral choice. Retail brands have to continually improve their sustainability and ethical practices because, in many ways, shopping is the purest expression of morality and, some believe, is more important than voting. Think I’m kidding? Consider this…
The retail fashion industry is worth US$1.3 Trillion annually. If it were a country it would be the 7th largest in the world. The textiles, Clothing, Leather and Footwear sector is the 2nd biggest polluter in the world. The dumping of microfibres in the ocean is the equivalent of 3 million barrels of oil – basically a Deepwater Horizon spill – every year. Fast fashion has a lot to answer for!
So, there are a lot of opportunities for shoppers to express their morality and the environment desperately needs people to use their purchasing as a form of protest. The good news is that research from Cambridge Universities Sustainable Fashion Blueprint 2018 highlights people want to purchase more sustainable products. Their research indicated that 57% of respondents put sustainability in their top 3 criteria for apparel purchases. The trouble has been getting the right information on which brands are ethical (or not). Add to this the greenwashing phenomenon, where a brand markets itself as being socially and environmentally responsible in order to appeal to a conscious consumer. In reality their practices are opaque and unethical. Surf brand Roxy has come under pressure for this sort of unforgivable behaviour.
But now, organisations like Good On You are using the same owned media channels that retailers use to drive sales, to make people aware of (un)ethical brands. Over 170,000 people are using their App to make more informed purchase decisions. An informative website and regular email program ensure ethical shopping remains top of mind. Good On You are one of a number of organisations that are using the connection economy to empower shoppers and expose unacceptable practices.
Ethical consumption, social responsibility, fair trade, gender equality, conscious consumers… it’s all just the soft stuff that doesn’t change the hard economics of retail, right? David Suzuki, one of the world’s leading environmental scientists, says “economics is a form of brain damage”, because it considers our environment an externality… Smart retail brands know that sustainability and ethical behaviour cannot be externalities if they’re to keep up with today’s conscious consumer.