Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have Yourself a Very Ethical Christmas

Given that Christmas in this day and age is primarily driven by capitalist consumerism, can this festive season still be enjoyed in an ethical manner?

By: Ringo Bones

If ever the famed American social justice crusader Michael Moore tries his hand at making a Christmas special, he might focus on the topic of ethically produced products / goods and services as the main talking point. And very topically relevant too, given that Christmas this day and age is primarily driven by capitalist consumerism. But given that materialistic concerns will not be relinquishing its stranglehold on the Yuletide Season anytime soon, can we – the capitalist consumers / Christmas Shoppers – still have the power to do good during this festive season?

Probably since the time Rock Star turned famed humanitarian Sir Bob Geldof managed to safe millions of starving Africans via the capitalist consumer’s own game, the ethical outlook of Generation-Xers had been radically changed (is it?) in comparison to their parent’s generation. The concept of “What your parents didn’t tell you.” - i.e. how the spending patterns of us capitalist consumers could to the world a whole lot of good. Unfortunately, still not everyone knows how.

Every time we step up to a cash register – or click an item on the web, or have our credit card scanned for our preferred purchase – we vote. If you want your purchases – like I hope you honestly do – reflect your principles, you should know by now on how to shop for a better world. Or had read about “Shopping for a Better World” – a publication of the Council on Economic Priorities that rates 186 companies that make 2,400 brand name products on 10 social issues; Which can be used by all of us to help us select products made by companies whose policies and products we support - like the Free Tibet movement.

So the next time we’re checking out a product for quality and price – especially this Christmas Season where we do the bulk of our materialistic gift-giving shopping – why not also check out the social performance of the company behind the product. Like on issues of corporate social responsibility, ethical business governance, child labor use, and environmental concerns; or maybe buying only products from companies who made sure that their factory workers are provided with full healthcare coverage and matching 401K plans or equivalent. Armed with this information, we can easily turn our Christmas Shopping cart or trolley into a vehicle for social change, thus allowing everyone to enjoy a very ethical and merry Christmas. Unless of course you are planning to unleash the wrath of those three Christmas spirits that used to haunt Mr. Scrooge.


Je M'Apelle Ja'Nelle said...

Blogs about having an ethical Christmas have been growing in number in the past few years. Unfortunately - in the eyes of Madison Avenue marketing men - think that ethical capitalist consumerism, like Christmas Shopping for ethically produced goods still doesn't sell. This is why most ethically produced products on the market today don't say as such on the label. Making it hard for us consumers on how to vote with our wallet for a better world. A certain example is a Philippine produced coffee that is marketed locally without a sustainably / ethically produced badged stamped on it. While the same product stocked on EU-based stores show the same Philippine produced coffee being stamped with an ethically / sustainably / fair trade produced product badge when aired on some BBC News feature. Mystery of mysteries indeed that makes me wonder if the Makati Stock Exchange marketing men ever gives a rats ass about ethically produced products and fair trade goods during the Yuletide Season.

Sans Ferdinand said...

The main probnlem of shopping for ethical products this Christmas - or any other time of the year - is that ethically produced products / fair trade products are often not indicated as such. Does it cost more to place it on the label that this particular product is ethically produced or purchased from the farmer / source at fair trade prices?
On another topic of having a "Politically Correct Christmas / Politically Correst Holiday" I think calling a Christmas Tree as a Holiday Tree is just intellectually inane. If political correctnes really want to change the world, they should try to arrest Christian Broadcasting Network chief Pat Robertson to face war crimes trial in The Hague for underwriting the genocidar rule of Liberian strongman Charles Taylor with the profits of Robertson's Liberian gold mines.

Ringo said...

I think there should be an internationally binding law that manufacturers should list the sources of the raw materials used in their products so that prospective customers can decide - via an informed choice - whether the product they are about to buy is ethically produced or not. Given that this is a recession-period Christmas, my ethical footprint may not have been led astray so much since I've only bought locally-produced goods which I have first-hand experience whether they are ethically made or not.

VaneSSa said...

I do agree that there should be a law indicating whether manufactured goods are ethically produced. Given that most fish with the Marine Stewardship council - or MSC stamp - are only indicated as such in the EU and US markets.

Golda said...

I do agree that some ethically produced goods - even those who became finalists in the annual Shell-sponsored World Challenge awards ( ceremony - are often not indicated as ethically produced when sold in the Philippines. The problem with the concept of ethical consumerism in the Christmas Season is that "conservative" NAZI-leaning folks like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the xenophobic cast of Fox and Friends probably think that you are a communist / socialist when practicing ethical consumerism / corporate social responsibility.