Consumers need to shop ethically

Photo by Jessica Johnson.

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Convenience. It’s what we live on; in fact, it’s what we thrive on. More often than not, we pick where we shop, where we eat, and where we work based on convenience in proximity to our needs. Is it close to home? Is it cheap? Is it easy?

In our attempts to find businesses that suit our needs, we send our services to businesses like Walmart and Amazon. These corporations seem to put our convenience first, offering several fairly low-priced items, either in-store or online.

However, in our search for convenience, consumers often overlook what’s going on behind the scenes at these corporations.

Walmart has been widely known to employ the use of sweatshop-like conditions in foreign factories with unethical labor practices and dangerous working conditions; some even reporting being beaten by their supervisors. This eventually led to a lawsuit being filed against Walmart from six different countries.

Amazon has also been the subject of controversy more recently when reports of workers who suffered injuries at work were left jobless, homeless, and unable to obtain another job. Amazon also pays workers extremely low salaries, with the median being slightly above $28,000 a year. 

Yet, even when the aforementioned companies are faced with public lawsuits and boycotts, millions still flock to these companies each year, putting their own convenience above workers’ rights.

Take action in avoiding companies who practice unethical treatments against their employees. If consumers make it clear why they stop using a certain company, the company will notice, and in turn, choose whether or not they make a change to meet consumer demands.

It’s not easy. Avoiding super-stores like Walmart is difficult; their prices are the cheapest and you can find one anywhere. The same can apply to Amazon; not every company will deliver items straight to your door.

How do we avoid these corporations? Well, for every store that utilizes unethical labor practices, there’s another store that doesn’t. Instead of Walmart, try shopping for groceries locally, at farmers markets or local businesses. If prices are what you’re concerned about, another prominent super-store located in town is Target, which has prices comparable to Walmart and has been named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.”

As far as Amazon goes, there are countless online shops that treat their employees fairly and run fair and ethical companies. If you’re looking for electronics, Best Buy is another contender for the world’s most ethical companies. If you’re looking for clothes, sites like Everlane, thredUP and Target (again) have a variety of options.

Shop smartly and ethically. Don’t contribute to a lasting problem; do research before you shop. It may take a few extra minutes, but it does make a difference.