The Ethics of Consumerism Marius TEODORU Introduction People have been consuming as far back as man can remember. During time people have increased consumption and began to become somehow addicted to consumption. Reaching today, consumerism began to be more evident somewhere in the fifties in the USA. Companies began to realize that people are needed for them to buy more and more manufactured products. So they started producing more and more forgetting that the environment needs protection. People have forgotten that they have to think about life, and became increasingly “addicted” to shopping.
Human thinking began to become one in which everyone believes that money has the most power in the world and can do anything and can handle anything. Nobody thinks about ethical consumerism. No one accepts that there is an ethical way to live and consume things. Ethics is not accepted in the universal opinion. Consumerism has become a way of life for more and more people – just like a new religion. Consumption began to make a difference between people. They think that everyone who has money has power and can do whatever he wants, including environmental remediation.
Time passing, people have changed their way of thinking. Everybody wants to buy cheaper products for low prices. Nobody thinks about how these products were produced. Nobody knows that buying cheap clothing, manufactured in poor countries is a vote in the favor of workers exploitation. In a world like this, there must be somebody who leads people to an ethical consumerism. There should be someone who tells people how to spend money in an effective, inexpensive and healthy way and who explains them how the most of the products they buy are produced. Change begins with me. WHAT CAN I DO?
I can change my part of doing things. I can change my way of buying and consuming goods. I can protect the environment and the next generation through my actions. I can tell to others how they affect the world. All these are actions we can do to change the current situation. Everyone should think the same – this is a way of thinking that leads to an ethical consumerism. Abstract The following paper reveals the content of a new form of the modern consumer’s manifestation: the ethical consumerism. This concept grew and developed in the last decade of the 20th century, but we can find its origins in the USA fifty years ago.
The entire society has evolved and so did the context in which a company acts, that’s why the organizations must adapt themselves to maintain and keep their standards to a reasonable level. In the present, the consumers are more and more satisfied and their opinions are stronger than ever. The relation between the consumer and producer can influence the whole world. For this reason, the manufacturers must keep in mind all these opinions, in order to keep their positions in different markets. One of the most important tendencies concerning the consumers’ role in the future development of the markets is ethical consumerism.
Keywords: consumer, consumerism, ethics, environment, nature People say that money rule the world and the power belongs to rich people, but nobody wants to realize that the way they spend money and live their life can influence and change the situation in which the whole world is. The way that each man spends his own money and the way in which every man lives his life could save the nature. If everyone of us would go shopping thinking about global poverty, preservation of wildlife and nature, and many other things about the world and what they can do for it, probably we could make the Earth a better place for us and the generation to come.
So people need an ethical thinking about life, nature and about our followers from the next generation. The consumer – producer relationship is what drives the economy and the whole world. Ethics is not an accepted universal option, just like religion is for each of us. So what can be important for one person may leave another indifferent. According to the standard criticism of neoliberal consumerism, the extension of market relations leads to a depoliticizing individualization, whereby the meanings of citizenship are progressively onsumerised. (Baum 1999, Needham 2003) In this context, how a consumer spends his own money, ethically or not, it is basically a vote in favor of a healthier environment (nature). Consumerism is one of the movements that protects the consumer rights and defends the interests of consumers so that the products and services may be adapted information and it establishes a rationalization of the purchasing behavior. Consumerism is the current that pushes the entire world population to consume even what it doesn’t need.
It also encourages the masses to buy what they don’t need, when they don’t need it and for many times per week or day. “But to many people the notion of consumerism implies an ideology of materialism, personal consumption and display, and the term as such is used pejoratively. ” (Brown, 1996:1) Consumerism has become the new religion. To be a consumer is, somehow, a noble pastime. The ideology of consumerism has also become the filter by which social issues are viewed or many times not viewed. Defining Consumerism: From the explanations of some dictionaries, the consumerism is: 1.
Organized-efforts by individuals, groups, and governments to help and protect consumers from policies and practices that infringe consumer rights to fair business practices. 2. The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial. 3. Continual expansion of one’s wants and needs for goods and services. Consumerism talks about materialism, about the tendency to buy more and more. In other words, consumerism means to buy more from a product or service for increasing economy and make you satisfied even if you don’t need something. Defining ethical consumerism:
Ethical consumerism is the intentional purchase of products and services that the customer considers to be made ethically. This may mean with minimal harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and/or the natural environment. Ethical consumerism is practiced through ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favored, or ‘moral boycott’, that is negative purchasing and company-based purchasing. The rise in ethical consumerism and green brands that identify themselves as ethical has led to a rise in ethic-based decisions in the mass market, enabled by increased understanding and information about business practices.
The term “ethical consumerism” may refer to the wider movement within marketing, which means that large corporations wish to be seen as working ethically and improving the ethical standards of their industry. Ethical consumerism means taking responsibility for daily personal impact on the world. It’s not the illusion that shopping can solve all the world’s problems and not to follow a prescriptive list of companies and countries that should be banned to change our way to act more ethically.
In fact, ethical consumerism means to take time for learning something about how your lifestyle affects people, animals and the planet, and take your own decisions about what means to make an ethical purchase for affecting this world in a good way. Consumer-oriented activism is modular in the sense that it can be extended to open-up a range of everyday practices to strategic “ethical” conduct by individuals and households, and also because it can be applied to a diverse range of causes (e. g. sustainability, health and safety risks, animal welfare, fair trade, labor conditions, and human rights).
To be an ethical consumer can involve tracking the distance to the purchased food to see how much energy was consumed to reach the destination. For this reason, the ethical consumers are encouraged to buy products that are locally produced. Buying cheap clothing, manufactured in poor countries is a vote in the favor of workers exploitation. At the same time, growth in industrialized and specialized animals’ farms may lead to deliver cheaper meat preparations, and the price paid reflects the lower quality of both meat and animal life. From these premises, to encourage green production can be a vote in favor of a healthier environment.
In other words, can be a vote in favor of human rights (general) and the consumers’ rights (in particular). We live in a “have now” and “pay later” society. As buyers, many times we can see this problem in different ways. There is nobody in the “poor world” that wants to buy expensive things or spend money without receiving something significant in exchange for. Everyone wants to buy cheaper goods with a big quality or if they must spend some money for something, they want to have the same value in exchange for their money. But the problem is that a big part of the orld is a “low class” society (poor people). There should be a method for leading people to save not only their money, but also the natural and human resources. Frequently we may feel overwhelmed by the “day by day” problems that we face and the number of possible options to pursue. Even if we don’t know what to do in many situations of our life, the volume of information circulating between producers, traders and consumers is huge and we have always to make a choice between our good and world’s good. This is the moment when ethical consumerism proves its value and shows what its atributes are.
Ethical consumerism means not just a good choice, but to support “good” companies by boycotting the “bad” companies, to withdraw the support for the companies that are not so “green”, that are not practicing the ethics of consumerism. While the business owners passionately drive the economy, the consumers, through consumerism on borrowed money, pull the economy down. “WHAT CAN I DO? I’m only one person against the world. My actions won’t make a difference. ” Comments like these express the sense of powerlessness that many of us feel when faced with the extensive degradation of the Earth’s environment.
The fact is that consumers have become the non thinking; passionless stiffs “must have it now, junkies”. Consumer spending has become the new drug, and the credit card has become the addicts’ best buddy and I can do nothing for that. However, people around the world must discover that, as consumers, they do in fact have the power to affect and change the way that large companies develop and produce their products. The ethical consumer movement derives its power from the simple fact that the ultimate success of any business depends solely on whether consumers purchase its products.
Ethical consumers believe that in order to protect the environment we must first and foremost consume less; we must consider the environmental impact of producing, using and disposing of the products that we do buy; and we must consider a company’s adherence to ethical standards and fair trade practices before purchasing its products. In short, consumers wishing to modify their buying habits should ask themselves the following questions: Do I really need this item? Does the production of this item harm humans or any other living creatures? Does the production of this item harm the environment?
While proponents of ethical consumerism concede that it may be impossible to find products that meet all these criteria, all agree that posing such questions can help us to make better choices. What about the consumer? “The “consumer” has become the dominant figure in public. ” (Cloke, 2005:1) Almost all people buy things without thinking about how these things were made, without thinking about what was destroyed for producing a good, or how many people were employed to produce that good. Nobody wants to be a nature destroyer, but everybody buys and uses things without carrying for this nature.
People tend to buy so many things without having really need of them and then they forget for what they spent money. All that many people think when they buy something is that they buy a good even if they don’t really need it, because they believe that the thing will be helpful someday. There should be someone who leads people to save more money and more life, thinking about the next generation. So we need to learn how to spend our money only on those things we really need, in order to prepare a better life to the next generations. To understand consumer behavior, we must recognize that the budget constraint that is relevant is the constraint perceived by the decision maker. ” (Deaton, 1980:12) Bibliography 1. Barnett, Clarke, Cloke, Malpass, 2005, Clive Barnett, Nick Clarke, Paul Cloke, AliceMalpass: The Political Ethics of Consumerism 2. Brown, 1995: Defining Consumerism, The Unmanageable Consumer: Contemporary consumption and its fragmentations, 1995 3. Deaton, Muellbauer, 1980, Angus Deaton, John Muellbauer: Economics and Consumer Behavior, The Press Syndicate of The University of Cambridge 4. Isabell, 2003: Ethical Consumerism, Green Teacher, Summer 2003 5. ww. answers. com 6. www. businessdictionary. com 7. www. wikipedia. com 8. www. helium. com ——————————————– [ 1 ]. http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/consumerism. html [ 2 ]. http://www. answers. com/topic/consumerism [ 3 ]. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ethical_consumerism [ 4 ]. Publication Information: Article Title: Ethical Consumerism. Contributors: Katharine Isbell – author. Magazine Title: Green Teacher. Issue: 71. Publication Date: Summer 2003. Page Number: 47+. © 2003 Green Teacher. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.