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PRO: Does ethical consumerism fulfill its promise?

Written by Mikaela Wayne

Whether it is food or any other product, consumption is generally a part of one’s everyday life. With recent political changes, many are putting more thought into this everyday act, using what they purchase as a platform for change. Mindful consumption is defined as being constantly aware that the decisions on what people spend their money on has an impact on your community, the society and the planet, and it is a practice that many are starting to adopt. Mindful consumption, although time-consuming, has a great impact on how corporations are funded, and should be a priority to those who are politically aware.

Mindful consumption is not a new practice; however, after taxi drivers boycotted John F. Kennedy International Airport because of President Donald Trump’s travel ban and Uber took advantage of this to improve business, many people boycotted Uber. These people were passionate about a political cause and were able to support their cause from afar. Following the initial boycott, Uber took the backlash to heart by declaring Trump’s ban unjust and pledging to donate $3 million to Uber drivers affected by the ban.

Our favorite suppliers’ political views and practices may not line up with our personal views, and knowing this and choosing to do something about it is an easy way to get involved. One might be wholeheartedly opposed to a certain issue, but might also be supporting it unknowingly. People and money are the forces that keep a company alive, and without the money that comes from these people, a company must change their ideals—or lose revenue. By taking the extra time to put in research before buying a product, one is contributing to a cause and perhaps changing the trajectory of the outcome of a certain issue.

Many argue that boycotts can put innocent employees of the company out of work. However, boycotts do not make sales drop fast enough so that a company immediately goes out of business. Rather, they raise awareness of a company’s practices and encourage backlash, which can lead to reform so a company can protect their image and again increase their sales. Using one’s ability to have a voice is extremely powerful and can give people the confidence to come forward about any kind of corruption.

The practice of mindful consumption supports or opposes causes; however, it can also be practiced directly by purchasing products that are beneficial to the environment. Across the United States, there is an excessive use of plastics to package products. By being mindful and using practices like buying recyclable and compostable products, the single-use plastics issue can largely decrease. It comes down to simply not picking up a straw to consume a drink or checking whether or not a certain package is recyclable. By being mindful of the effects that certain products have on the planet and taking the time to avoid the consumption of harmful products, the state of our planet would greatly improve. If consumers simply put in the time to research products, the world would not only improve from a social standpoint, but from an environmental one as well.

Mindful consumption may seem like a tedious task. While research takes time, the benefits far outweigh the detriments. This practice takes the power directly away from big corporations and corrupt companies and gives it back to the people. Understanding where money goes is an important aspect in supporting a cause, and this practice can give people a voice they would not otherwise have. It is an essential aspect of self-improvement and can lead the world to be more just and democratic.

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