What is Educated Consumerism
February 3, 2011Posted by on
Before I get into specific blog entries I first want to explain why I am writing this blog. While this blog will cover many topics there is one underlying theme: educated and responsible consumerism. This topic is complex and involves many subheadings to I wanted to give my readers a basic definition of this topic before I delve into it.
People living in the United States are consumers before most anything else and often do not know where, when, how, and by who their goods are produced. People buy food, drinks, clothes, furniture, and houses, and benches, and cars. People consume energy and natural resources, and as a result of the sheer magnitude of the amount of goods people consume, other people who produce these goods have a valuable commodity, and with any valuable commodity there are ethical issues involved. Educated consumerism involves knowing these issues and choosing the consumer goods that are ethically produced.
There are thousands of ethical problems that originate in irresponsible and uneducated consumerism. One source of these ethical problems is the food industry, which has concerns such as clean food production, vegetarian ethics, factory farming, environmental farming, mono-cultures, gm foods, and preservatives. Another source of problems comes from the demand for labor, which can lead to issues such as sweat shops, child labor, government controlled labor, terror funding, and conflict diamonds. While these topics have been covered by news organizations, writers, musicians, and artists, and affect corporations, small business, department stores, gas stations, coffee shops, grocery stores, stock markets, whole governments, and individual people, the average person does not have general knowledge about most of these issues. Though there are several different opinions on how to handle on each and every one of these issues, every person needs learn about where their consumer goods come from so that they can know the choices they are making. That is my goal for writing this blog. Of course I cannot possibly cover all the issues in educated consumerism, however, I wish to educate myself and others on the basics of how buy responsibly.
I am interested in this topic for a variety of reasons, first of which is I am pesco-vegetarian, which means that I eat fish and no other meat. I made this choice after learning about factory farming, which often leads to animal cruelty. When I made this choice I was exercising educated consumerism. Cutting meat out of one’s life is an exaggerated example and most educated consumerism is a little more tempered, but the principal is the same: I learned about a practice that I do not agree with, so I exercised my rights and refused to support this practice by giving it my money. This is what I call personal responsibility. I know that even though I am not solely responsible for factory farming or the problems of the world in general, I am “personally responsible” for them meaning that some of my actions (my spending money on specific consumer goods) have led to factory farming and other problems. Therefore even if I cannot fix these problems on the large scale, I can change my life so that I will no longer “personally” add to these problems, and I can do this by learning where my clothes, furniture, car, gas, and food come from.
My peers and I are personally responsible for our actions, and in order to improve our world we need to accept that responsibility and change our actions. I will not argue that we need to change our actions immediately or extremely because it would be impossible to function in our society, but if we become educated about our consumer habits it is my belief that we will make good choices.
It is my hope that origins of our consumer goods will become common knowledge, and that this knowledge will inspire people to make ethical choices when purchase their consumer goods.