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What does ‘ethical shopping’ actually mean?

World Vision
21 November 2014 by Ruth Dearnley
What does ‘ethical shopping’ actually mean?

Using resources like the Ethical Shopping Guide is a great way to get started on making ethical shopping choices.

A month ago, I was having dinner with a close friend. As often happens with our catch-ups over pizza and a glass of wine, there is never enough time to discuss everything we want to and we were blissfully ignorant to the glares of the restaurant staff who wanted the table back an hour ago.

Somewhere between conversations about house renovations, Chinese medicine, and fair trade organic cotton bed sheets, she stopped and said,

“I’ve been meaning to ask – when you talk about buying ‘ethically’ what does it actually mean to you?”

I was surprised. I thought we’d always been talking the same language, with our shared passion for op-shops and our weekly organic food deliveries.

My friend’s interest in ethical purchasing stemmed from her concern for the environment. So she started considering the food miles of her purchases, buying more locally-sourced organic food and avoiding household products with lots of chemicals that are harmful to the environment and choosing natural-based products instead.

For me, living more ethically has always meant trying to value the people behind the products I buy – as well as the impact that my purchases have on the world we live in. Whilst I like to buy seasonal produce from local farmers, I don’t mind the trade-off of more food miles of products from overseas, if I know they have been treated fairly and are actually benefiting from that purchase. So I always look for Fairtrade labels.

It’s not always that simple – and when ethically certified alternatives aren’t available, it can be difficult to weigh up what is more important to us. So I let my Shop Ethical! app be my guide.

Although different issues sparked our interests, both my friend and I recognise that the lifestyles we lead mean we have to buy things from many different companies – and they will always have an impact on other people and the environment. Wherever possible, we want to make sure that it’s a positive one.

That’s what ethical buying means to me.

Want to know more about ethical shopping?

Find out more about the people behind the products you buy here.

Ruth Dearnley Ruth Dearnley

Ruth is the former Public Advocacy Manager at World Vision Australia and a passionate advocate for all the little things we can all do to make a more just world.


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