How do you know that a product you use is made ethically?
The answer is you can’t. There are too many loop holes and too many clever people to know that the business you’re buying from has made their product ethically.
Consider Fair Trade. Created to guarantee ethical treatment of employees in poorer nations, it has repeatedly failed to keep clever people from using a few loopholes and oversights to keep their unethical businesses alive.
I’m not talking about “white lies” or other small unethical choices. I’m talking about things like slavery, prostitution, and murder. The cotton in my shirt, the beans used to brew my coffee, and the diamond on my wife’s finger were probably handled by slaves at some point.
A few people may have even died creating the things I don’t think twice about.
These Things Matter
Business isn’t evil, but some business people sure are.
Like my friend who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash when his investment firm stole it. Looks like he’ll get less than 60% back and the thief won’t even be prosecuted.
Or how about Apple? Do you think a company that is meticulous in every step of product creation doesn’t know their Chinese factories are underpaying, overworking, and knowingly harming their employees? They’re working on it now (sort of), but that doesn’t excuse what’s been happening.
There are a million stories like this. It’s an ever-present issue to consumers like you and me. And while there are many more ethical companies than unethical ones, it’s still an issue.
What can you do when you hear about unethical practices of businesses? There are a few things:
- Be ethical. Do you claim all your taxes? Do you manipulate business owners to get a better deal? Do you steal time from your boss by using the computer to play games? Stop it. Do the right thing. Ethical choices are made by individuals, not businesses. When you do the right thing, it shines light on those who don’t and helps to eliminate the problem.
- Buy wisely. You’ll never escape unethically created products, but when you know of a company who makes consistent unethical choices stop doing business with them. Let your conscience overpower your comfort.
- Give back. Don’t just stop doing bad things, start doing good things. Develop a worldview that includes helping the hurting, giving sacrificially, and encouraging righteous actions. It not only helps you do the first two suggestions, but gives those around you an example to follow when making their own choices.
Change always starts with the choices of a few people. These choices are like stones thrown into water that cause it to ripple out until it goes over the whole surface.
Make good choices. Be ethical. Throw some stones.