Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Sometimes when I'm in a shop, I imagine that each item being sold has a little screen next to it, and playing on the screen, for all to see, is the story of that item. Not an advertisement showing happy people using it, or proclaiming how many colours it comes in. But the real story.
It would show us what it's made of, where the materials or ingredients came from, how they were sourced, who grew them. We could see the faces of the workers who made the item; how old they are, where they work, how they are treated, how much they are paid. Whether they are being empowered or exploited. We could see the impact on the community where the item was made; whether its production is helping or harming them. We could see how the environment is considered in the creation of the item; the resources, the packaging, the transportation, the carbon footprint, the waste.
If you could, would you want to see the story on the little screen? And if the story wasn't a happy one, would you still buy the product?
Obviously, my imagination is running away on me... there will never be a little screen for each product. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a story. It just means that the story isn't being told.
And there is usually a reason that the story isn't being told.
Ethical shopping is all about that story. It's about aligning your values (because I know you have good ones!) with the values of the brands you support. It's about spending your money in a way that improves our planet, and the lives of people on it. The core values behind ethical shopping are fair labour, transparency, community, equality, consistency, inclusiveness, giving back, and sustainability.
Sounds like a bit of a no-brainer right? Why WOULDN'T we support things that are all about these awesome values?? Well, there are two main reasons that I can think of; price and availability. But wait, before you stop reading and head to Kmart, bear with me; I can overcome both of these obstacles for you!
1. Price. Yes, it's true. Products created using these values usually cost a bit more (although in the next paragraph I'll let you know how this isn't always the case). There are good reasons for this; they pay people fairly, they don't take shortcuts when it comes to the environment, they give back to the community. But just because the items are more expensive, that doesn't mean your pocket needs to take a hit. 'Huh?' I hear you say. You see, when you make conscious, ethical purchases, you can consume less. "Buy less, choose well, make it last" is how Vivienne Westwood puts it. More quality, less stuff cluttering up your life - sounds like a win-win to me!
2. Availability. What if I told you that there is one place you can go to find brands that you KNOW are ethical (they don't just say they're ethical). fair&good is a new ethical marketplace showcasing brands that do tell their story, because they're proud of it, because it is the kaupapa on which their brand is built. fair&good is not-for-profit. They do not trade or sell anything themselves, nor do they take a cut or commission on any sales or seek any funds from the brands they showcase! They are all about taking the hard work out of making ethical decisions. What's more, is that by showcasing these ethical brands directly, at no cost to the brands, they help them to cut out the middle men, and therefore keep their prices as low as possible.
You can browse by categories or values, discovering products and brands that you'll be proud to purchase for yourself or others. Here is a tiny sample of what you can expect to find:
-A bottle of wine made in Wairapa, with all profits donated to help survivors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery from 27seconds. (UNICEF statistics say that one child is sold into slavery every 27 seconds)
-Crafted wooden toys made in Sri Lanka by a manufacturer providing employment and training to the marginalised and semi-educated youth.
-A satchel, handbag or wallet made in Kolkata, India. They provide alternative employment to women trapped in modern-day sexual slavery.
-Underwear, loungewear, swimwear and socks, sewn in Wellington by women from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
-A beautiful set of felt New Zealand native bird finger puppets (pūkeko, kea, kiwi and tui). Made in Nepal from NZ felted wool and coloured with AZO-free dyes.
-Delicious, ethically-sourced Pluma coffee from a kiwi social enterprise that empowers disabled people through employment in sustainable trade.
This is just a small taste of what's on offer at fair&good. You can find teas, chocolate, clothing, toys, bags, homeware, skincare and more, all from brands whose business is based on their values.
Not only did fair&good make my Christmas shopping easier, but I didn't get that frantic knotted feeling in my stomach and head that I do in a shopping mall, or on an online hunt for the right thing. Reading the stories behind these incredible brands, and all the amazing things they are doing here in NZ and across the world, felt good for the soul. This time of year can be manic, and so consumer-driven. Half an hour on fair&good was a pleasant reminder that there are so many good people out there doing good things. And knowing that I could support their causes, rather than rushing down to the mall and throwing my money at multi-national corporations... well... it felt nice to know that I was doing some good too.
There is a quote that drives most of my decisions when it comes to purchasing:
"Every dollar you spend is a vote you cast for the world you want."
To me, that epitomises ethical shopping, as does the fair&good Ethical Marketplace. By sharing the stories, the real stories, behind the brands and products in their directory, they are helping us to cast a vote for a world which matches our values, where ethical shopping is the norm. A world where every product has a fair and good story that they're proud to share.
Check out the fair&good Ethical Marketplace here.
I love that, as part of my job, I get to share about incredible, sustainable NZ businesses, organisations and not-for-profits. This post is written in collaboration with fair&good. I only work with organisations that I use, trust and love. The words and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Juliet - The Great Eco Journey