happy woman jumping with shopping bags

No ethical consumption under capitalism

A phrase often mentioned to me when I choose not to support a given company or product is, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”

I don’t like this saying in practice, and I will explain why.

What does the saying mean?

The statement, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” suggests that supporting and buying just about anything is not morally sound under capitalism.

That t-shirt on your back? It came from a sweatshop.

That oil you just purchased? Someone cut corners with environmental considerations to get it to you at that price.

What does it not mean?

I tend not to like this saying, because there is something defeatist to it. Like a nihilist saying, “who cares, we are all going to die anyway,” there is a deferred accountability to buying anything.

Honestly, the saying feels like a way for people to justify taking actions they don’t love.

Just. . . sweep it under the rug, because “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” anyway.

What can we do about it?

All of the complaining being said, you can’t exactly walk around naked in protest of all of the clothing on store shelves.

But. . .

You can use the phrase to empower the decisions you make, especially in a position of power.

If you have the ability to do so, support brands and people who are making a difference. Have a good position in a business? Make your work more ethical!

Consider finding your own lines with what you choose to support. For example, I have certain companies and products I don’t support given how they treat women in the workplace. You might have your own lines.

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