Jarv’s rules, autumn 2020
Jarvis Smith on why ‘there is no such thing as ethical consumerism’
Published: 30 October 2020
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
This article first appeared in our Ethical Shopping issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 30 October 2020. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Do you support ethical consumerism? I’d argue the whole idea is a contradiction in terms.
Consumerism is hallmarked by a desire to own more than we really need, and rooted in an assumption that this would be good for the economy.
In reality, today’s global economy is not sustainable; we have been manipulated into a consumer frenzy based on an 80/20 rule: 80% non-essential items, 20% essential items.
Now here’s the thing: when the world went into lockdown and we started buying only what we considered ‘essential’ items (though I’m not sure how loo roll made it onto that list), we watched the economy tank.
That was a huge wakeup call: our economy collapsed when we stopped buying things we don’t need.
At the same time (and for the first time ever) we collectively, across all corners of the globe, experienced the great natural law of cause and effect. We stopped and nature came back; the air got cleaner and we experienced a miracle.
Now to me that’s amazing, because we all woke up to the fact that maybe the science is right: maybe humans are causing the climate crisis. Of course we are.
This could be a turning point for humanity, when we stop kidding ourselves that ethical consumerism is OK – or even possible – and start to see ourselves as human beings,
or citizens who like to buy things.
Time to come clean
We all like to shop, so let’s buy stuff we know is better for people and the planet, from brands and retailers that care about now and the future and sell products that have been created in harmony with nature.
If businesses with these ethics became mainstream, the health of the planet would improve very quickly. It really is that simple.
‘Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.’
Economist and retail analyst
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Think organic hair and body care, natural foods and drinks and ethical cleaning refills. We’ve tried to think of everything you might need – from everyday essentials to little luxuries that also make great gifts. We even plant a tree in the tropics as a thank you for every transaction.
There is no such thing as perfect when it comes to shopping, but you can be your best with us.