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Ethical consumerism advocates for products that are environmentally-friendly (not designed for single use or those that utilize fewer resources and materials), and fair trade products. There are a lot of misconceptions around what Fair Trade exactly is. People often attribute fair trade to the decision between choosing local vs. something made in a developing-nation. However, upon research, you will find that fair trade certifies commodities that aren’t considered “local” and have certain global issues attached to them. One article gives the example that:

African cotton farmers have been left on the brink of starvation thanks to subsidies paid to US farmers.

In order to offset the issue that is essentially created due to the local farming, why not pay the producer a fair price for the work they do? Therefore, it is evident that fair trade is far more than just the local vs. not-local decision. This of course, is just one example of how ethical products can have an impact here around the world, but they can also impact your daily life. Being eco-friendly through sustainable products and smart living can save you money and save the planet. Moreover, there is the new collaborative consumption movement that organizes sharing, bartering, trading and renting into a sustainable economic model.

All of these are methods for us to become ethical consumers, but are they realistic? Do you think “ethical consumerism” is a paradox?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, comment on this post or join us on June 16th in Toronto for Ethical & Fair Trade Products in the Marketplace – A discussion & networking evening. Learn more at http://ethicalproducts.eventbrite.com/!