It’s a new year and excitement is high for what’s ahead—what we all wish to accomplish, to experience, to pursue as we prepare for another orbit around the sun. One area to think about in a world that demands us to consume is shopping. These ethical shopping resolutions can help anyone become a more conscientious consumer, even in the faces of capitalism and greed.
Learn Greenwashing Terms
It is no secret anymore that companies participate in the deceptive tactic of greenwashing, boasting claims of hard-to-verify or outright false sustainability practices, and it’s time customers take a stand.
The first step is a crash-course in what greenwashing is and how to avoid it. Terms like “all-natural” or “biodegradable” are thrown on products a lot these days, enticing shoppers with imagery of plants and green fonts. Unfortunately, these words and marketing ploys are most often just that: ways to get consumers to buy without arousing suspicion.
Losing customers is the easiest way to put pressure on a business and let them know you’ll no longer be buying their products if they continue to greenwash and don’t adopt true sustainable practices.
Look for Certifications
One quick tool in your arsenal to fight back against greenwashing is looking for certifications. There are many kinds, and they can quickly tell you if a product and its company have been vetted by a third party for various standards.
The Green Business Network’s “environmentally ethical and socially responsible” certification is one such option, showcasing three areas: environmental responsibility, social equity, and accountability.
There are several others, covering everything from sustainability to animal testing and beyond. Here are some to learn about and look for: B Corp, 1% for the Planet, Non-GMO, USDA Organic, Leaping Bunny, Cruelty-Free, and the Vegan trademark.
Get Your Finances in Ethical Order
To consume is, often, to spend. In a world where inflation rates can change on a dime, wages continue to stagnate, and money is stressful, however, it can feel impossible to navigate how to spend your money, where to keep it, and beyond.
That’s why it’s so important, before you go out into the world as an ethical consumer, you get your finances in order.
No matter your age, you can start learning about or participating in socially responsible investing, and for those just getting started in adulthood and independence, there are ways for you, too, to get your finances on track from the jump.
Become more financially empowered with Green America
Shop from Diverse-Owned, Small Businesses
BIPOC communities make up about 40% of the US population, but only account for 20% of the country’s small business owners. Entrepreneurship is a way of building wealth in this country, something from which marginalized communities have long been excluded.
Green Americans can help combat this, and close the racial gap, by intentionally shopping at diverse-owned businesses and voting with their dollar.
Anyone can browse the thousands of Green Business Network members using the Green Pages online, including shopping specifically from diverse-owned businesses. Within the Green Pages, customers can filter by businesses with diverse ownership, including AAPI, Black, people with disabilities, Latinx, LGBTQ, veterans, women, and workers.
The types of businesses run the gamut and offer everything for every type of shopper.
Sustainable Threads, an AAPI-owned business, boasts an array of fair trade, handmade items, while Eco Dog Care, which is disability-owned, offers all the ethical, natural and sustainable grooming products you need for your furry friend.
Demand Better from Your Favorite Establishments
Don’t underestimate the power of individual, collective action—but also don’t let the powers that be off the hook.
A powerful way to take on corporate misdeeds is by demanding better from businesses or lobbying your local legislators to recognize it and act.
The next time you’re at your favorite bar or restaurant, talk to a manager about making the switch to more sustainable materials and that you’d even be willing to pay a little extra for them. Or, if you spot greenwashing, get in touch with the company and tell them why it’s an issue and why you won’t be shopping from them anymore.
You can also contact your city council and encourage them to adopt and enforce sustainable legislation, such as single-use plastic bans or ethical labor practices.
Now that you have these ethical shopping resolutions in your repertoire, it’s time to get out in the world and make this year the one where you, the consumer, are in charge.