Conscious Consumerism

What special cause will you have in mind as you shop today? Will it be donating glasses to those who cannot afford treatment for vision problems? Helping those recovering from a natural disaster? Giving shoes to the shoe-less? Supporting victims of abuse and neglect? There are many good causes out there to support, and therefore, many organizations sell products to help.

Conscious consumerism is the practice of buying products from companies committed to promoting a good cause. Today, it is easier than ever to join this movement by buying products in the stores and online. Shoes, chocolate, cell-phone chargers, coffee and clothing are just some of the many kinds of products where ethical alternatives are available.

One of the most notable recent instances of conscious consumerism is the TOMS shoes fad. The TOMS company promises buyers that a pair of shoes will be donated to someone in need of footwear in exchange for every pair customers buy. TOMS are not the only shoes out there for conscious consumers, let alone the only product that allows buyers to give back with their purchase.

Another organization that is well-known for socially responsible products is Krochet Kids, which sells hand-crocheted hats, scarves and even iPod accessories. The organization employs over 150 workers in war-torn Uganda.

Meanwhile, the One World Futbol project helps aspiring soccer players in countries such as Afghanistan, Cameroon, Mali and Kenya by donating them a virtually indestructible soccer ball whenever a customer buys the same ball from the organization. The organization chooses not to hire child laborers to manufacture the soccer balls, unlike most companies that produce traditional soccer balls. This illustrates the power of socially responsible companies: they do not only promote good causes, but also use more ethical business practices.

Socially responsible products made in an ethical manner can also be found closer to home. Once instance is Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennessee, which sell bath and beauty products with all-natural ingredients. The organization employs women who were victims of abuse, prostitution and trafficking, helping them gain work experience. Thistle Farms’ profits in turn support each woman at the farm still recovering from her own past.

There are many other organizations selling socially responsible products for an assortment of causes. Even the local supermarkets advertise several products that claim to support a good cause. However, conscious consumers must be careful in selecting their purchases. Some companies try to disguise themselves as a charitable organization when they truly are not. Furthermore, many socially responsible products are more expensive, to account for the increased production costs. Therefore, consumers have to be selective about what products to buy in a socially responsible manner.