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Ethical Consumerism Report

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Ethical Consumerism Report
Executive summary
Ethical consumerism refers to personal consumption where the choice is informed by a given ethical issue, for instance, social justice, animal welfare, human rights or the environment. Ethical consumerism attempts to reaffirm the moral aspect of consumer choice through emphasizing the links between consumption and production, locally and globally. The main agenda of the ethical consumers is enhancing their well-being by practicing a purchasing behavior that avoids exploiting or harming animals, humans or the environment. There are some barriers that hinder ethical consumerism, and they include lack of knowledge, lack of information, money, corporate ethics not top of mind, as well as other concerns like brand and quality of products (Littler, 2009).
Introduction
Over the last one or two decades, more and more individuals around the globe, basically in industrialized nations, have become more aware as well as more informed of the origins of the products they purchase on daily basis, the buying practices and policies if the shops that they visit as well as the principles and policies of the serves that they purchase. This increased awareness as well as knowledge is influencing the consumer practices, and this may be the difference between an individual purchasing a certain service or product or not. Basically, ethical consumerism is a type of consumer activism since it involves consumers being accountable for their decisions in purchasing services as well as goods (Nicholls & Opal, 2005).
Charities, trade unions as well as other civil society organizations around the globe have conducted regular campaigns aimed at informing consumers how the products as well as services they purchase are provided, farmed, manufactured or otherwise produced. The main aim is highlighting the significant profits that are made by corporations and other businesses in developing countries at expense of the workers, stressing that the very apparent way of tackling inequality and poverty around the globe would be ensuring that every individual enjoys good working conditions as well as benefits from a living income, access to adequate public services, particularly health, social protection and education, and a meaningful and fulfilled life (“Ethical Issues,” 2009).
Ethical consumerism
Ethical consumerism refers to buying things that are ethically made. Ethical consumerism also can be described as the practice that involves purchasing of services and products produces in a manner that reduces environmental and/or social damage, while avoiding services and products alleged to have a negative impact on the environment or society. Therefore, being an ethical consumer involves buying products which are produced ethically and/or which are harmless to the society and environment. Products which fit into the ethical category include fair trade goods, organic produce, electricity from renewable energy, energy-efficient bulbs, recycled paper as well as wood products that have Forest Stewardship Council Approval. Ethical consumption is a tool for change which is very powerful. Ethical consumers usually practice positive buying whereby they favor ethical products as well as businesses that carry out their operations on principles primarily based on benefit for the greater good instead of their self-interest, allowing for the business self-centeredness only for the continuation of doing the right thing outside of self. A recent report emanating from the Co-operative Bank demonstrated that a third of the consumers in the United Kingdom claimed that they were concerned about ethical consumption, whereas only 3 percent of the United Kingdom market is dedicated to the production of the ethical goods. According to Co-operative Bank, the market for ethical services and products includes the following sectors; ethical food and drink, ethical finance, the green home, ethical personal products, and eco-travel and finance (Neve, 2008).
Expenditure on ethical services and goods in the United Kingdom has increased almost threefold from 1999 to 2008. Nevertheless, it still represents a smaller amount than one percent of total household expenditure. In 2008, the UK ethical market was worth 36 billion Euros, compared with 13.5 billion Euros in 1999. The average spent per household in 2008 on ethical products as well as services, excluding charitable ethical finance and charitable donations, reached 735 Euros. Expenditure on addressing the climate change grew to 251 Euros in 2008 from just 23 Euros in 1999. One in every two United Kingdom adults alleged to have bought a product primarily for ethical grounds in 2008, compared to one in every four in 1999. The basic principles of ethical consumerism are linked directly to the companies’ need to be responsible socially in all facets of their business activities as well as for governments to apply and also examine the application of the international conventions concerning appropriate labor and human rights, environmental and social standards (“Ethical Consumerism and Everyday Ethics,” 2014).
Company review
The supermarket sector in United Kingdom has to put a lot of effort so as to enhance its overall environmental and ethical performance (Barnett, 2011). Co-operative Food stores in England have been named to be the most ethical retailer in United Kingdom. Co-operative food store won this award of the most ethical retailer doe to its pioneering environmental and ethical policies that make sits the leader ahead of all other supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The main co-op retail brand in the United Kingdom was awarded the accolade during the Drinks Retailing Awards for the second year running, due to its market-leading commitment in responsible retailing of wines, spirits and beers. This business was awarded to be the most ethical retailer since it has been putting a lot of efforts towards operating in the most responsible and ethical way. Since launching their first own-label Fair-trade mark wine in United Kingdom more than a decade ago, it has been the leader in the field and it now sells 52.5 percent of all Fair-trade wine sold in the United Kingdom, thus making it to be the nation’s market leader in this area (“Co-operative Food,” 2015).
The sales of Fairtrade have been funding various projects, such as constructing a secondary school in Tilimuqui for 315 pupils. Tilimuqui is a municipality in northern-western Argentina that deals with wine-growing. Moreover, the retailer has minimized its carbon footprint by in excess of 36 percent in the past year through increasing the volume of wine bottled in United Kingdom and changing to a glass bottle with a lighter bottle for a lot of selected lines. This initiative has saved 4,222 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions which is equal to the yearly electricity consumption of 18,759 households. The co-operative also was the first dealer that included a full list of calories information, sensible drinking advice and ingredients as well as the alcohol units on the wine labels, in its commitment to honest and open labeling. In addition, this is now accessible across its own-brand variety of spirits and beers. In its efforts to promote responsible drinking this retailer has been committed including a greater choice of alcohol-free and lower-alcohol products. It removed its own-brand large-bottled strong dry cider and super strength lager from the range, as well as including a lower ABV on its own-label cider. For many years Co-op has been in the forefront in regards to the ethical consumer movement. Co-operative food store was the first trade to only stock Fair-trade bananas as well as banning products from Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Co-operative Group as a whole has been a genuine ethical trailblazer (“Co-operative Food,” 2015).
The Co-operative food store has always supported the United Kingdom farming industry as well as promoting the British food. The retailer is also very committed in the environment, fairness I the supply chain as well as in animal welfare. The retailer has created close relationships which are long-term with their suppliers and farmers, as way of working with them to ensure that there is transparency in their supply chain, which is built on fairness, trust and honesty. The retailer has come up with farming groups that are aimed at encouraging the best practice among the farmers, as well as giving them returns that are profitable. The animal welfare policies set up by the retailer are always upheld and they are sustainable. The retailer has continued investing and supporting farmers so that they can work as efficiently as possible. The retailer’s efforts towards protecting the environment are evident. For instance, all their toilet rolls are accredited by the FSC thus meaning that they are helping and supporting to protection of the world's rainforests (“Co-operative Food,” 2015).
Opinion survey
A survey conducted on ethical consumerism revealed that the imperative developments for ethical consumerism in future would be; greater transparency from companies; more Fair-trade products; better ethical labeling; greater utilization of social media in sharing ethical shopping choices; and clamping down tax avoidance. Majority of the participants of the survey also stated that retailers require far more vigorous policies on gigantic swathe of ethical issues that include fair treatment of the suppliers. The participants off the survey also alleged that most of the retailers in the United Kingdom have a lot to do so as to be ethical businesses. Most participants claimed that lack of information about ethical consumerism is the biggest obstacle that hinders consumers from considering ethical aspect of the products and companies when making their purchasing decisions. The participants said that the formal consumer movements should conduct vigorous awareness campaigns in order to reach more consumers and ensure that they are well informed concerning ethical consumerism which will help them in their buying decisions (“Ethical Consumerism in Alcoholic Drinks,” 2010).
Conclusion
There has been an increase in emerging formal consumer movements in the industrialized nations, with an aim of ensuring that consumers are capable of getting value of their money from their purchases. These movements also provide authoritative information to people as way of enabling them to get improved value for their money. These efforts has helped in strengthening the legal framework of retail sector, including the advertising regulation in addition to improved labeling requirements of drugs, food, cosmetics, drinks as well as other consumer goods. Price and taste still dominate in the evaluation criteria however ethical considerations are lately becoming the driving force in regards to brand choice (Devinney & Auger, 2010).. The propensity to purchase ethical products is increasing however lack of choice and poor in-store merchandising seem to be slowing the adoption further. Ethical consumers require plausible guarantees regarding ethical attributes. Suppliers are supposed to address the quality issues regarding certification as well as branding to promote their quality-assured products. In this regard, the suppliers are supposed to assume their responsibility of delivering quality products together with added information attributes. Consumers also are becoming more informed about ethical consumerism, whereby expenditure on ethical services and goods in the United Kingdom has increased tremendously in the recent past.

Recommendations
The most important developments towards achieving ethical consumerism in future would be; greater transparency from companies; more Fair-trade products; better ethical labeling; greater utilization of social media in sharing ethical shopping choices; and clamping down tax avoidance. Although price is an imperative factor when making buying decisions, as an ethical consumer, an individual require to consider other factors in his buying decisions. Ethical consumers should strive on buying services or products offered or produced ethically by businesses that act ethically. In this regard, consumers should buy services and goods that minimize environmental and/or social damage as well as avoiding products that are perceived to have a negative impact on the environment or society (Lewis, 2011).

References
Barnett, C. (2011). Globalizing responsibility the political rationalities of ethical consumption. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Devinney, T., & Auger, P. (2010). The myth of the ethical consumer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ethical Consumerism and Everyday Ethics. (2014). Consumption Norms and Everyday Ethics.
Ethical Issues. (2009). Risk Communication, 57-70.
Ethical food and drink, Fairtrade and free range | Co-operative Food. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2015.
Lewis, T. (2011). Ethical consumption: A critical introduction. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Littler, J. (2009). Radical consumption shopping for change in contemporary culture. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Neve, G. (2008). Hidden hands in the market ethnographies of fair trade, ethical consumption and corporate social responsibility. Bingley: Emerald JAI.
Nicholls, A., & Opal, C. (2005). Fair trade market-driven ethical consumption. London: SAGE.
Stella Artois Case Study Tapping into the Rise of Green & Ethical Consumerism in Alcoholic Drinks. (2010). S.l.: Datamonitor Plc.

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