THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING
Sustainable shopping—also known as ethical shopping—takes more time and effort. And it takes more money. It would be misleading to suggest otherwise. But for decades, we’ve ignored the actual cost of cheap goods. Many items are inexpensive only because they are made with low-wage labour, using methods harmful to the environment that contribute to climate change. An ethical consumer asks important questions before their purchase.
1) What factors made this product possible?
2) Who benefits from the sale of this product?
3) Who is left behind?
Sustainable Shopping Requires Answers
If a seller cannot give you these answers, it’s highly likely that the product in question is not a sustainable, ethical purchase. The answers you want are:
1) This product was made by a craftsman with centuries of ancestral wisdom behind their talent and skill. The process has been vetted and is sustainable and does not harm the environment or local community.
2) The creator of the product, and their communities, benefit directly.
3) No one. Your responsibility as a conscious consumer, and our responsibility as ethical buyers, is to understand who created the product, to know if it does harm to the environment and to know who benefits from the sale. It’s simple really. It’s sustainable and it’s ethical. But try to explain that to the CEO of a big box store. The global market can no longer be ruled by unsustainable manufacturing and unethical treatment of human beings (and other living things).
Ethical shopping isn’t just a moral decision – your choice will provide its own reward in durability and lasting aesthetic value along with a new value. Knowing the story behind how and why the pieces have been created creates a bond with your item. You get to know the blacksmith from Kenya who learned his craft on his father’s knee and is today passing his ancestral knowledge to his son and other neighbourhood youth. And the father/daughter woodworking team from Canada who create magnificent serving boards using reclaimed wood – because every plank has a story to tell and one to add. And the woman from Uganda who creates handmade weekend bags with joyful designs – to help heal some of the trauma that she and others have experienced. These are not just inanimate objects.
These are ethical products born of history, born of romance, born of healing. In addition, you know that the creators have been paid fairly for their craftsmanship and skill. And you know that their heart always goes into their work, because it represents their history and culture, and they are honoured that you are sharing in it.
Sustainable Shopping Brings Multiple Benefits
When you shop with ethical companies, you know the source and that the product is made using sustainable raw materials and a sustainable process. In addition, your purchase directly aids the creators and their communities. It helps them raise their quality of life. It helps them to send their children to school. And you will own an aesthetically pleasing, well-made object that has all the potential of becoming a treasured belonging. That’s the part of the story where you come in.
Buy sustainable, artisan-created products from ethical companies and you’ll become a conscious consumer. And tell all your friends. There’s power in numbers—the power to change things.
SHOP SUSTAINABLE ARTISAN-MADE PRODUCTS
Glass blowing has been around for some time, invented by Syrian craftsmen more than 2,500 years ago. When purchasing quality glassware or art glass, you should consider the aesthetics, the origin, and the type of glasswork.
What happens if a young man wants to propose to his love in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico? He must first ask her parents for her hand in marriage and must present the family with what is known as a ‘marriage candle’. Doña Viviana invented these candles. And now, they are a tradition.
His workshop is Manos Que Ven (Hands That See). The artisan is Jose Garcia Antonio, a sculptor who lost his sight in the 1950s, due to glaucoma. And now, he sculpts his wife’s face, so that he will never forget what she looks like.