Ethical Shopping in a World Saturated with Misinformation

Ethical Shopping in a World Saturated with Misinformation

7 Simple Questions to Cut Through the "Conscious Shopping" Hype



Looking for something unique, beautiful, and handmade?

But how do you know if it's really "ethically sourced" ?

  • "Ethical"
  • "Sustainable"
  • "Fair Trade"
  • "Greenwashing"
  • "Who Made My Clothes"

What does “ethical” or “sustainable” mean in today’s world of global supply chains, massive online shopping platforms, and multinational corporations? 

The reality is that “ethical fashion” is a constantly shifting BALANCE that respects people, planet and a sustainable livelihood for all.

There's no simple formula, but transparency is critical to finding out whether that blouse or bag is really an “ethical” purchase or just another case of “greenwashing.”

So, before you attempt to make your next ethically-minded purchase, consider asking these 7 questions…

1. Who made it?

  • Is the producer anonymous or proudly identified?
  • Can you easily find out more about the producer?

TIP: Check the business’s web presence, especially the “About Us” page on their website to see if the producers are mentioned.


2. Where and how was it made?

  • Does the vendor freely share information about the origin of raw materials, how they are produced, and what their physical production facilities look like?
  • Where do the designs come from, and is cultural (mis)appropriation involved?

TIP: If the only available information is limited to the legally required “Made in [X Country]” and fabric content labels, then it is not likely that the business follows ethical practices.

3. How are the makers treated?

  • Do the producers receive a living wage, and what are their physical working conditions and hours like?
  • Do the producers have any role in decision-making and policy?

TIP: Take mental note of how the vendor reacts when you ask these questions. Most vendors that are operating ethical businesses will be glad to answer these questions!

4. What is the environmental impact of the production and supply chain?

  • Are organic or “sustainable” raw materials used? If not, are they readily available at reasonable cost to the producers?
  • What are the environmental impacts of the packaging, shipping and delivery system? Are there viable alternatives?

TIP: This question is among the most complex. Keep in mind that if the producers are located in an area where high quality and affordable raw materials are limited, options in this area may be reduced even if all other aspects of the business are ethical.

5. How long is the production and supply chain and who is in it?

  • Is the entire production and supply chain visible, or does it involve many undisclosed “middle men” that may be taking a large percentage of profit?
  • Do the vendors work collaboratively to create reasonable and sustainable profits for everyone in the chain?

TIP: Keep an eye out for signs of “fast fashion,” which is designed to minimize the cost for the consumer and generate profit for large producers through quick, high volume sales.

6. Is the product produced and/or sold by a Fair Trade Federation (FTF) member?

  • The FTF is the only North American organization that holistically assesses the production and distribution chain for handmade crafts and fashion.
  • You can learn more about the FTF, fair trade principles and verify membership at:

TIP: Look for the FTF logo on product tags, the producer/brand or vendor’s website, or in the store.

7. Does it make you feel amazing?

  • If you love the way you feel when you put it on or look at it, chances are you will cherish it for a long time and use it over and over again.
  • Does it have a memorable story that inspires you and makes you want to share the story?

TIP: If you don’t have a strong emotional reaction when you see it, just don’t buy it. Living a more minimalist lifestyle is a great way to make a difference.

So, the next time you're shopping for a beautiful handmade heritage product you'll cherish, try asking these questions!

Even focusing on just one or two can make a difference.

The more customers ask these questions, the more vendors will be forced to use ethical practices that respect people, planet, and a sustainable livelihood for all!

  • We bring the authentic Silk Road to you with beautiful handmade heritage products.
  • You can trust that your purchase will support cultural preservation and economic empowerment.

Visit the HoonArts online store today!

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