the Conscious Consumer

an investigation into how we affect the world we live in and how it affects us ...

the Conscious Consumer is a website devoted to exploring the idea that each of us can change the world we live in by simply changing the way we consume.

Each of us, at one time or another, may find our self frustrated or disappointed with our surroundings or our daily life. Decisions we make and decisions others around us make are sometimes in line with how we'd like to live and sometimes not. The problem is that we rarely see how our choices affect our world. Everything around us can seem completely out of our control and out of our hands.

Whether we care to admit it or not we are influencing some of the decisions that create the many frustrating and disappointing activities of the human race – the oil tanker that spills its cargo into the sea, the over weight child that cannot stop eating candy and drinking soda-pop or the corporation that exploits its resources for its own gain, which usually means for the gain of its board of directors and upper management, not its employees. On the other hand we are also in some way responsible for the many moving and innovative decisions of our race – organizations that set new guidelines for transport and manufacturing processes so that they are environmentally and humanly conscious, nutritionists and doctors that guide children’s eating behaviours, groups of lawyers and citizens that insure certain corporations pay for their misuse of resources including other human beings and make sure that they don't do it again. Our influence is not as direct as it is with those immediately around us, but it is there, and we can make an impact.

How do we influence these decisions? How do we help one group and deter another? How do we support one group’s values and help another group change its values? We make more consciously and informed choices. Each time we buy a product or a service, we place a vote of confidence in that producer or service provider - every source of raw material, every practice of environmental standards, every form of employee relations and every form of communication with the public. Everything that company or group does is something we support. Everything that company or service provider does and believes, we’ve said yes, go ahead and keep doing it. We’ve given them a bit of our energy, in the form of our money, to continue doing whatever it is that they do with it without accountability to us for any actions except for our continued support in buying their products and services and our reliance on our overburdened governmental controls to manage and regulate them.

We’ve almost lost complete sight of the idea that the provider of the things we use and consume should be held accountable for the manner in which they produce or serve us by us. Why? If a local farmer poured waste water into the stream you used as your water supply, you’d most likely have a heated chat with that farmer that day. If you took your horse to the local blacksmith and saw that his apprentice was overworked, barely able to move and looked extremely sick you’d probably say something as you did have the blacksmith over to dinner just the other night. Not many of us live in that small village anymore. For most of us, our water comes from the tap or the bottle and we rely on those who control it and produce it to take care of it. When our car needs repairs, we take it to the local auto shop and rely on the mechanics to use parts and materials that are consciously produced and to regulate their labour needs justly. When was the last time you asked your grocer how the water put in the water bottle you just bought was produced? Did you ask if the plastic they used was recycled? Did you ask your auto mechanic if they disposed of the oil properly? Did you ask the auto-shop worker if they felt that they were fairly paid? These are just a few examples of what we’re getting at.

Our goal is to begin with a small step. While we cannot examine everything in detail, we can examine things with a common sense approach. We may not always have a scientific report or a statistical chart, but we will do our best to illustrate our arguments with uncommonly common sense.

Each article will attempt to explore three different perspectives:

Everything from the clothes on our backs and the foods we consume to the materials and services that provide our homes and transportation vehicles have an effect on everything we know. We influence decisions about these products and services every single day with the cash in our pocketbooks and there is no better day than today to become a more conscious consumer.