every purchase we make has an impact.
Simply put, every penny we spend is a vote of support for that product or service, and the way it was created. Every company has a guiding philosophy on how they do business. Whether it is just to make the maximum amount of money for the owners, to support the local population, to provide healthy food, or make people’s life easier, that philosophy is reflected in all of their products and services. A responsible consumer will try to understand the underlying values that have created the product or service, and make an informed buying decision.
Certainly, buying less is the best way to reduce your environmental impact, as any environmentalist will tell you. However, we can’t completely stop buying things, and very few have the chance to produce their food or goods independently. With the majority of people living in cities – more than 80% of the population in Spain (Statista, 2020) – the reality is that we have to go shopping for our daily needs. Now, the question is: How can I shop responsibly?
How can I shop responsibly?
Responsible shopping can sound difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. All it really takes is to be curious about what you are spending your money on. Asking and looking for a little bit more information already goes a long way in understanding where the products come from, what they contain and how they were produced.
The first pieces of information are typically found on the product itself. Most products have a label that contains information on the ingredients or materials they’re made of, as well as manufacturing country. Choosing products with more natural materials or ingredients is the first step in becoming a more responsible shopper. Also selecting goods that are made closer to where you live (in your home country) will go a long way in reducing the environmental impact of your purchase. This also reduces the chance that unethical employment practices (like child labor) are used somewhere along the supply chain.
The second piece of information is also typically visible in the product itself. If the product or materials used have been certified, the producers will want to tell you that and make them visible in the product packaging or label. Certification is costly and demanding, and producers that make the effort to obtain certificates for their products already indicate their commitment to responsible business practices.
Third, the place where you buy the product will also indicate whether the product itself is made responsibly or not. If the shop or website is focused on selling the cheapest things, then the products sold are likely to be made in the cheapest possible way. And typically this means higher environmental footprint and lower ethical standards. However, just because something is expensive does not mean it is better for the environment. For instance many luxury brands couldn’t care less about environmentally friendly or ethical production. If that’s the case, how can I know where to shop responsible products?
Where to shop responsible products?
Websites and shops that focus on sustainable and ethical products are the easiest source to find responsible products. Those shops that are truly focused on responsible shopping, will communicate it from the start and let you know their commitment. They choose their providers not simply on price, but mostly according to the values the goods are produced with. They will also share information about the products, their origins and materials/ingredients openly; you don’t need to dig deep to gain that knowledge.
Many shops and chains are selling ‘green’ or ‘bio’ products along with their usual selection. While choosing these products can be slightly better, they are mostly used as ‘greenwashing’ to make the company look better when it is not truly committed to sustainability or ethical business practices. A responsible shopper understands the difference between greenwashing and a true commitment to responsible business.
Why does any of this matter?
The underlying and overarching reason for becoming a responsible shopper is that the way we are consuming goods is also consuming our planet. For already 50 years we have been increasingly using more resources than our planet creates. Climate change is just one of the negative effects that has created. With increasing population and diminishing reserves, we have to act and reverse the trend.
Shopping responsibly is part of the solution. While there are other solutions too, we do need to pay more attention to consumption habits and intentionally try to change them. And the responsibility for that lies with every individual. Governments and international organisations can help in facilitating the change, but in the end it is all of us together that can fix the direction we are headed. The good news is that we don’t need to change the modern way of life drastically. All we need is to start paying a little bit more attention to what we value, what businesses we support, and how all of that affects nature and people.
To wrap up, responsible shopping is not difficult. All it takes is giving a little bit of thought to the products we buy.
There are plenty of responsible options for anything we need, and you can find them easily online or in physical stores. All you need to do is to look for responsible, sustainable or ethical shops and e-commerces.
Human activities have caused global mean temperatures to rise roughly by 1 degree Celcius since the start of the industrial era some 150 years ago. With the current rate of global warming, we will reach 1.5°C warming within the next couple of decades and 2°C a bit later. 1 or 2 degrees Celsius doesn’t sound like much, but it will cause major changes to global weather systems, affecting all life, plants, animals and humans alike. Changing ecosystems, droughts, extreme weather phenomena and sea level rise will cause species loss and extinction. Global climate change will literally affect all life on Earth. Examples of visible changes in our surroundings can be found for instance at NASA’s Global Climate Change site: https://climate.nasa.gov/. If we manage to stop the increase in temperatures and keep the change below 1.5°C, many of the negative effects and associated risks can be prevented.
Though we are late in reacting to the change, it is still not too late. But we need to move from words to actions, and start making better choices. It is true that the majority of emissions are caused by industries that normal people have very little direct control over, but we do still have collective power. In the capitalist societies (practically all societies, arguably even China), business decisions are based on finances, and one way for normal people to affect the decisions of companies and producers is to make conscious decisions on how we spend our money. If companies that pollute the air, ground and water do not have customers buying their products, they are quickly out of business. This way you can also have the power to create change. Collectively, our everyday decisions of what we buy, eat, wear, use and consume will guide businesses. And if we start making conscious decisions on choosing more sustainable options, change for the better will follow.
(Source for data: IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for policymakers, 2018. Available at: https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf)
Kendani.com has been in the making for quite a few months now. We started off with an idea that we’ve toyed around with for a couple of years already. Astghik has dreamed of opening her own organic shop since she’s been a little girl, and Veijo was growing more and more frustrated while trying to find sustainably and ethically produced goods and finding it difficult to make better choices. Buying things online is really easy, but finding the good producers amongst thousands of them is time consuming. If only there was a good way to fix that problem! After discussing these matters, and letting the idea mull for a while, we decided to tackle the problem, fulfilling Astghik’s dream of running her own shop and helping people like Veijo to more easily and reliably find clothing and other goods that live up to the word ‘good’.
So in January of 2019 Kendani.com was born. The word ‘kendani’ is Armenian and roughly translates to ‘alive’. We thought it to be a fitting name for a platform that supports a change towards responsible consumption and helps our dear planet stay alive.
Today is an exciting day for all of us here at Kendani.com, as we’ve just published the site and we are open for business! It has taken a lot of work to get us here, a couple of redesigns on the platform and changes in the concept. There is still plenty left for all of us – Astghik, Veijo, Jake and Amaia – to do to reach the dream we have and build a marketplace where you can find a sustainable and ethical option for any product you need to buy, delivered with minimum environmental impact, and bringing joy for you and the rest of the World. All done easily, ethically, sustainably, and reliably. This is our dream, and we are on the way of making it happen.