A month on... the ethical shopper

At the start of 2011 I committed to three months no shopping (apart from food), and once I had completed my cold-turkey, I committed to being an ethical consumer. I have always made and effort to buy ethically where possible - receiving fair trade catalogues and getting organic veg boxes delivered. Now I wanted to take this a step further and stop using my desire to consume (or even need) as an excuse for enslaving others or wasting what I already have.
So for just over a month now I have been purchasing again, but only second hand or fair trade, which seems to be the only way to ensure no one has suffered for my pleasure. There has been one slip up, when I purchased a hat on a sunny day, forgetting that I needed to hunt around more! But there's also been a few pleasant surprises: I managed to find a cute designer bag (Paul Smith) in a charity shop for £5, and also discovered that ethical shops like People Tree have special on line offers and deals much as any other retailer, making items briefly more affordable! I've also managed to give a pre-Pesach sermon about my experiment, which I'm told touched someone that really needed to hear it.
Of course the bottom line remains that in many ways, shopping has become a past time and not something many of us do out of necessity. But having made the change, I seem to be doing ok at not returning to my old ways. Making sure that the Jewish ethic of Bal Taschit (not wasting) as well as not abusing our workers, and the environmental ethics that come into play all take priority is something that today takes a little work, but is increasingly essential!


  1. I'm really impressed by this journey you have set out on. I've always been into making informed decisions about what and where I shop, and it's really inspiring to find others doing the same. Sometimes I hear people arguing that it doesn't make a difference, that one person's buying power will change nothing. Whilst that may be true, a lot of individuals making these choices DO have a combined power. I remember as a kid talking all of my friends into buying pump-propelled hairspray rather than CFC ones. These days you can hardly find CFC-propelled spray cans. The same happened with chlorine bleached note pads. A few people stopped buying them, then others tagged on, and these days you'd be hard pushed to find them. - So we CAN make a difference!


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