Why focus on commerce and shopping?
Trade and commerce are as old as the human species itself. Our Ice Age ancestors engaged in trade, sometimes over very long distances. They bartered, swapped and exchanged items of value, as determined by the principle of supply and demand. The scarcer the item, the greater its value and return for its suppliers.
Yet, despite this early form of commerce practiced by our hunter-gatherer forebears, people lived in balance with nature. For them it was a question of survival, not just harmony. Although, they also possessed a deeply felt reverence for nature.
Despite the enormous damage commerce has done to the planet and the lives of exploited individuals and communities in recent centuries, it is possible to rethink our approach to it, and shopping in particular. To make it fairer and more sustainable. In fact, we have no choice!
We all have to shop - its our main (often only) source of food, clothing and shelter, among other things. And there are far too many of us to go back to hunting and gathering, even if we wanted!
We need to transform shopping - both bricks and mortar and online - in ways that are free from harm to the people who make the products we consume, other life, and the planet as a whole.
And so much has changed in the "ethical shopping" space of late that there is no longer any excuse for saying "it's all too hard" or "we don't know where to start".
At Ethical by Nature we aim to be industry leaders in ethical shopping. Our customers are demanding it and it is smart business.
Besides, there are strong and compelling reasons to act. The future of humanity is looking increasingly grim and we need to change our economic systems quickly to ensure a bright future for our kids, their kids, and so forth.
What are we doing at Ethical by Nature to shift shopping to a more sustainable footing?
Our product range
We specialise in selling Fair Trade, handmade, organic, vegan, cruelty free, recycled, upcycled and carbon neutral/offset products.
Many of our items are imported from overseas and this also helps us support women artisans, eliminate exploitation, and build a sustainable living income for marginalised communities.
Let me give you an example. We'd love to sell more products that have been made in Australia. But the sad reality is that many products said to be made here have been manufactured or assembled from materials or components imported from overseas.
And many of these materials or components either lack transparency and accountability in their supply chain, or are produced under conditions of exploitation and environmental damage. So, buying locally made isn't always best.
Eliminating environmental impact and developing sustainable systems is also built into the 10 Principles of Fair Trade of the World Fair Trade Organisation. And this is another reason why we're big supporters of Fair Trade.
Supporting worthy causes
We are business members of 1% For the Planet and use this as an opportunity to support environmental organisations and projects whose commitment and action benefits us all. We donate 1% of our sales to these worthy causes.
We also donate a proportion of our sales to Oxfam Australia to help them in their great work in empowering overseas communities, especially women, and delivering much needed.
We recently started offering our customers the opportunity to offset their purchase for $2. This is available at our checkout.
A tree is planted for every sale in our store. As of mid-February 2022, we have planted more than 2500 trees and offset 418 t of CO2.
All of our electricity is sourced from renewables and is also fully carbon offset - it also turns out to be cheaper for us than buying electricity produced with coal!
For our online deliveries we use recycled, recyclable or upcycled packaging materials. The sticky tape we use is biodegradable. And we recycled as much as we can.
What's for the future?
A lot more can be done to support a more sustainable, equitable and ethical future for people and the planet. As a business, we are constantly looking for new ways to minimise or exclude ecological impacts in every part of our enterprise.
But clearly the problems we face are much bigger than just one business.
We all need to be thinking a lot more about our shopping behaviours. And remember that consumers are the most powerful force in shopping and commerce to demand change!
Be savvy! Demand and businesses will listen. And if they don't, refuse to spend your hard earned money with them! Change is possible.
Finally, take the time to find out about where the products you're buying come from. Demand to know who made them and under what conditions they were made? Are the products you buy made by children or modern day slaves? Do they harm the planet?
Together, let's be the change the planet needs!