Ethical consumerism is the idea that consumers should be able to pursue a range of ethical values and policies and pursue a variety of ethical purposes through how they spend their money in the market. This is practiced through the purchase of ethically manufactured products that support smaller producers and local artisans to protect animals and the environment and boycott animals that are exploited as child labor, tested on animals, or harmed the environment. An ethically aware customer understands that when they buy something they don’t just buy the product.
The term “moral consumer”, which is now used liberally, was first popularized in 1989 by the UK magazine Ethical Consumer, an emerging ethical investment movement. However, it still represents less than 1% of total household expenditure. The total value of the UK ethical market was £ 36 billion in 2008, compared to 13.5 billion in 1999. Ethical and environmental ratings based on such criteria have since become commonplace in both consumer information and business-to-business corporate social responsibility and sustainability rates such as Innovate, Calvert Foundation, Domini, IRRC, TIAA-CREF, and KLD analysis. Today, Bloomberg and Reuters provide “Environmental, Social and Governance Measures” ratings for the financial information screens of thousands of stock traders. Expenditure on tackling climate change (for example on green transport, energy efficiency, and renewable energy) rose from just £ 23 in 1999 to £ 251 in 2008. One in two adults in the UK claims that they bought a product in 2008 for policy reasons, compared to one in four in 1999. Ethical consumerism, according to its most vocal advocates, has emerged as a potentially innovative form of post-post-politics where consumer-citizens reshape the practice of global capitalism from the bottom up.
The practical concern involves finding relevant information and the problems that customers face in acting on it. In most cases, customers buy how their products were produced, or individuals or companies know relatively little about the values they produce. There are two main changes to how ethical consumerism can be imagined in the market. First, consumer goods, which were once thought of as objects other than history, are redefined to include moral (and unethical) decisions made in the manufacturing process. Second, consumer law itself becomes a political choice, not like voting, in order to apply democratic values to the market. User-generated ethical reviews to provide democratic, deeper coverage of a wide range of potential, long-term, products, and businesses. The Green Stars project promotes the idea of including ethical ratings (on a scale of 1-5 green stars) in addition to conventional ratings on retail sites like review sites like Amazon or Yelp. A recent report by the Cooperative Bank claims that one-third of UK consumers are concerned about policy costs, while only 3% of the UK market is dedicated to the production of ethical products.
Like any product or service, explicit benefits help to stimulate the demand for ethically produced products. From an environmental point of view, it is well illustrated by the European Union’s labeling scheme which is used to classify the energy consumption of white products. The term political consumerism was first used in a study by authors Dietlind Stoll and Michelle Michelti entitled “Reversing the Gender Gap: Political Consumerism as a Women-Friendly Form of Citizen and Political Involvement”; In this study, however, the authors found that political consumerism is a form of social participation that is often overlooked at the time of writing and needs to be accounted for in future social participation studies.