As evidenced in my previous blog, there is a climate crisis happening around us. And, from the plastic waste to the fumes emitted from our daily commute to work, we are responsible.
Christians have a duty to care for the creation around us and pursue environmental justice. What is a way for us to live up to this calling?
We must be ethical consumers.
It should be noted that individual consumers like you and I are not fully responsible for the environmental degradation happening. A significant burden falls on the corporations responsible for the production of our daily goods. But, unfortunately, inspiring change in these corporations is incredibly difficult because with positive change for the environment comes a cost to the corporation’s wallet.
Because top-down change is challenging, change is reliant on individuals being ethical consumers. Ethical consumption can look different to everyone, but here are some rules I like to live by in my own life.
First, do not take more than you need. America is known to be a nation built around the economic system of capitalism. This economic system prizes the consumer and encourages a materialist mindset. Additionally, with the creation of social media, consumerism is pushed more and more through advertisements and the act of comparison. Consumerism isn’t going away anytime soon. However, we can strive to be ethical in the way we consume. This includes not taking more than you need.
When I was thinking of how to write this blog, I was reminded of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. During this time, they did not have access to food or water. But God, being a faithful Father, provided them with exactly what they needed. He gave them manna and quail from heaven.
I think this example of God’s provision for his people can guide us in our quest to be ethical consumers. God sustained the Israelites in their years of wandering with only two kinds of food. And, the Israelites only took what they needed to survive each day. What if we lived with this mindset? If we only took what we needed, we would ultimately create less waste in our own households. Furthermore, if more people did this, we could affect some change in the corporations and in the amount of goods they produce.
Second, think before you purchase. I strongly believe that if people thought through their purchases beforehand, there would be less waste around the world. Do you really need another shirt? How about those plastic water bottles you’re holding in your hand? Did you think of the waste produced by what is currently in your cart?
Many of the issues we see with pollution are due to the mindless shopping we all engage in. If we examine our carts before we check out of the store, we can catch ourselves before we are wasteful.
Additionally, if we don’t know the production methods of a certain item or where it was made, we could unknowingly be supporting an unethical product. This is why it is necessary for us to research and think before we are too quick to purchase.
Third, support small businesses. In big corporations, ethical questions arise with each stage of production. By shopping small, many of these ethical dilemmas are no longer at issue. Typically, the supply chain is smaller, and many products are sourced from local individuals. Additionally, your money is going to support a local organization rather than a large corporation.
By shopping small, you first know where your money is going. Second, it is a way to support your own community and beat the overall inclination to produce waste.
Becoming an ethical consumer is a long process and requires a mindset shift within each individual. But, I hope that in becoming more aware of the waste in your own shopping cart, you can make wiser decisions and learn how to be ethical in your consumption.