Over the last few years, people have become more and more aware that who they purchase from really matters. The movement towards shopping small and ethical consumption can be a lot to think about. If you’re just becoming aware of how your purchasing habits generate good and bad consequences, and you’re not sure how to make sure that there are more good consequences than bad ones, here are a few basics to keep in mind.
Who Owns It?
First of all, consider who you are buying from. With small businesses, this is relatively straightforward. If you buy from a native art gallery, you know who owns the art. If you’re buying from a big box store, that can be a little more complicated. That store might be managed locally but owned internationally, and that’s where things get really complicated.
Who Profits From It?
This is often an even harder question to answer. The way that companies are owned and traded these days only complicates matters further. The core question remains unchanged, although answering it has become harder. When a particular store does well, do those profits get turned around and put into a charity, or handed back to the employees themselves, or does it go to line the pockets of a CEO’s bank account in some tax haven overseas?
Who Works There?
It’s also worth asking who works there and what their conditions are. This is particularly important in areas of retail where the product itself may have been produced out of sight, and the employees you do see are required to put on a happy face. Look beyond the facade and find out what the wages and real working conditions are.
Ethical shopping is complicated because ethics are complicated and this modern world is even more complicated. The many interconnections in our world mean that everything you do, and everything you buy, has an impact.