Living and consuming in the 21st century is a minefield of moral dilemmas. On the one hand we have an urge to buy the latest, greatest and cheapest products available, but must also contend with nagging doubts about the environmental and ethical impact of our consumption. Therefore the rise of the virtuous consumer, someone who aims to buy from companies that are “the good guys”, is a phenomena which all brands should be mindful. Consumers are looking for guidance as to which goods they can consume “guilt-free”; and in a world of increasingly long and complex supply chains, brands which can offer consumers a clear indication of their credentials could build a loyal following.
Below are three companies which are helping to assuage feelings of guilt and enable us to lead more virtuous lives:
Reducing environmental impact: Miya’s Sushi
Miya’s Sushi in Connecticut, US is a great example of a restaurant living by the mantra of only serving what is local. Chefs at this restaurant create dishes made from plants and animals which are non-native and invasive to their local ecosystem. By using these ingredients, customers are in fact engaging in a form of gourmet pest control and are helping to reduce the destructive impact these creatures have on local habitats! On the Invasive Species Menu includes dishes such as Kiribati Sashimi, which is made from Lionfish, Le Soupe du Mean Greenies, made from European Green crabs, and Knot Your Mother’s Lemonade, containing the notorious Japanese Knotweed.
Reducing human rights violations: Sustain condoms
When a clothes factory in Bangladesh collapsed due to shoddy construction in April 2013, killing 1,129 people, the impact our buying habits have on workers in other countries was brought into sharp relief. Sustain condoms, are the first sustainable, fair trade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified condom brand released in the United States. In what may be news to many, traditional condom production is rife with child labour and human rights violations associated with latex production. By marketing a product that solves these previously unheard of issues, Sustain condoms may encourage other big name condom brands to improve their ethical policy too.
Reducing animal cruelty in food production: Chipotle
Chipotle released this enchanting advert in September 2013, designed to highlight their superior animal welfare practices. In the ad, the Scarecrow protagonist is disheartened by the way food is made, and decides to grow and sell produce himself. Chipotle here are positioning themselves against the big fast food corporations and highlighting their superior animal welfare standards, which would certainly make me feel less guilty when tucking into a burrito!
(Originally posted on The Value Engineers blog on November 25th 2013)