What does Ethically sourced really mean?
As more of us prioritise the environmental consequences of consumerism, we are all trying to shop more consciously. From choosing products for their longevity, the environmental impact they have, or a company's green credentials. Many of us are doing this by looking for trusted certifications and companies that responsibly source their products and materials. Although more companies are meeting the new wave of greener consumers with positive actions, users must understand what this means.
The term ‘ethically sourced’ was coined after the Fair Trade movement in the 1990s. The Fair Trade logo has been a trusted source for identifying products that have been made with equal opportunity, pay, and provide a safe environment for their workers. Fair Trade and sustainability are intrinsically linked. Sustainability is often thought to be just about how we maintain our environment. However, it’s also about ensuring the actions we make are not compromising the future of other people or animals.
The environmental consequences are one of the most considered aspects of ethically sourced goods. This includes the way we source our products from raw materials, how they're manufactured, and what's involved in the production process. To meet these standards a company will look into carbon offsetting. They consider how they can neutralise the carbon emissions created by the planting, harvesting and shipping of the materials they need for their product. It is also vital that they take responsibility for replacing the resources and nurture the habitats they came from.
Inclusive of Fair Trade, human rights are of high importance.. The respect we have for our fellow people is reflected in what we purchase. By selecting items that are labelled ethically sourced we are reassured that a company has the respect to pay its workers fairly, provide them with a clean environment to work in and consider the communities that surround them.
The most important commitment that companies make when using terms like “ethically sourced”, is to be transparent with their customers. Greenwashing has become increasingly difficult to navigate. This is the term used to describe companies claiming they have green credentials or are using sustainable practices for the benefit of increasing their sales. Their customers are led to believe that they are shopping greenly, when in reality they have not received certification and in too many cases, haven’t changed the way they source or manufacture their products.
When we purchase a product it directly impacts the movement of ethically sourced materials and goods. Companies have to follow where the customer demand is to remain current. Therefore as our knowledge evolves, companies who are producing products that are healthier for our environment are receiving a greater influx of customers. In a domino-like effect, the more buyers
who take action by supporting these standards, the more companies are encouraged to uphold them and this inevitably increases the number of people supporting these practices.
When shopping consciously, seeing ‘ethically sourced’ to describe a product or business is positive. We must check the transparency of the claim, but it is one more step in the right direction of creating a better, more equal and healthier world.