Ethical consumption is the choice to consume in ways that further justice and wellbeing for all people. It involves:
1. Developing a generous lifestyle
While over one billion of our fellow human beings live in extreme poverty, unable to meet their most basic needs, another billion of us live with affluence, immersed in consumer cultures that encourage us to practise greed. Ethical consumption recognises that everyone has the right to consume what they need to sustain life as God intends. For those of us who are affluent, this means consuming less in order that we may share more (1 John 3:16-18; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Matthew 25:31-46)
2. Developing a just lifestyle
Many of the products we buy are made by workers in the developing world. In many instances these workers experience unsafe working conditions, abusive employers and are paid poverty level wages. Some goods are made using child labour and some are even manufactured using forced labour.
The Bible insists that workers are not to be exploited but treated with dignity, have time to enjoy life in their communities, and receive a wage that enables them to meet their needs (eg Deuteronomy 5:12-15; 1 Corinthians 9:3-10; James 5:1-5). Ethical consumption means, wherever we can, buying products where workers have been treated fairly.
3. Developing an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.
Both humans and animals depend on the proper functioning of the earth and its ecosystems (Psalm 104). Humankind has been entrusted to steward the earth in such a way that this continues to be the case (Genesis 1:26-28). The rise of a large global population, of consumerism, and of industrial processes means we are now negatively impacting the capacity of the earth to provide. Ethical consumption means finding ways to live that are environmentally sustainable.