Tue Cute Tuesday – Ethical Purchasing is Also Cute

Golden Retriever on Bed

You mean I'm ethical and I'm cute?

One of my quirks is that I think everyone should be paid a living wage for their work–enough to support them in the basic necessities of life and a little bit to allow them to get ahead.

Because of that I try to avoid buying products likely to come from sweatshops. I buy all my clothing used. I avoid buying anything made in China. It’s really, really hard. And it’s getting harder all the time.

That’s why I’m really happy when I look at my bed (and not just because there’s a fuzzy girl beside me). I was lucky to find Saffron Marigold, a company that sells fairly traded textiles from India. That’s where I got the beautiful duvet and matching curtains.

And the leopard print flannel sheets? They came from Portugal which is famous for its flannel.

No, I wasn’t looking for animal prints. That’s just the only thing I could find. But Honey looks really cute next to them–and they do a great job of hiding dog hair. I’m thinking of getting a whole wardrobe in the stuff.

By the way, curious about what a living wage means for your area? Use this calculator to see how much you need to earn to afford a basic life in your community. Sorry this is only for the U.S. But I’d encourage you to search for a calculator for your country if you’re visiting this site from elsewhere.

Golden Retriever on Bed

Y'know, I think one of these toys was made in China. But I'm not giving it up!

Do your values affect your purchases? Do you support stores and businesses that contribute to your community? Avoid products made with animal parts? Stay away from pet stores that sell puppies? Shop at companies where you agree with the values of the owners?

Share. I’d love to know what you’re thinking about ethical shopping.

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  1. Starting things on a controversial note, fosterdad and I became mostly vegan after learning more and more about the animal agriculture industry. For the most part, the industry is hauntingly abusive and irresponsible, and we decided that we’d rather bow out of it entirely than figure out how to reconcile our commitment to animal welfare with our (former) desire to eat cheese and meat. There are many wonderful small farms that treat animals well, pay workers a living wage, don’t create egregious amounts of pollution in the form of runoff and gases, and are overall assets to their community, but these farms are hard to come by and even harder to identify. And chances are, there is cruelty somewhere in their supply chain too (where are they getting their female egg-laying chicks, for example?)
    For us, the easiest way to be sure we were minimizing our contribution to animal suffering in the world was to abstain from animal products as much as possible. Many years ago this would not have been an option, but with the bounty of healthful, nutritious, local, and varied whole foods available on the marketplace now, it’s been very easy.

    • Thank you for starting off on a controversial note. I sometimes think that eating meat is the “elephant in the room” when thinking about companion animals. I hope to do a post on the whole pets vs. meat thing in the future.

      We’ve also tried to limit our dependence on the factory food system and eat mostly (but not exclusively) vegetarian.

      In the summer it’s easy. I live in a small city surrounded by farms and I have a front yard, square foot garden that feeds us well. In the winter, it’s harder. I can only eat so many turnips and winter squashes before my eyes roll back in my head so I do turn to comfort food, including lots of cheese and eggs. Fortunately, we can get that locally sourced at a reasonable price.

      Paying $90 for an organic, free range turkey a few years back, though–that hurt!

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. There are many stores and products I would love to be able to avoid if it was financially or regionally viable. While I try to buy from local markets as much as possible – for example all my dairy products are purchased from local farmers who treat their animals ethically – a lot of times this just isn’t possible for a number of reasons. And it makes me angry. Angry that if I want to shop ethically, I would be bankrupt. Angry that I often don’t have a real choice because I am choosing between having fair trade shoes to wear and paying rent. It sucks. I do what I can but I know it isn’t enough.

    There is a local pet store chain that I do not support as they sell animals. Even though this store, Pets Unlimited, is a lot closer to my car-less self, and is frequently more affordable, I will gladly go futher and pay a little more. I may not always be able to do this, unfortunately. Which also makes me angry.

    • I too believe that eating good, local, and well-raised food should not only be available to the wealthy. And I seem to recall you mentioning on your blog that you work for a nonprofit so you’ve already made some choices in your life that likely limit your income.

      I make some crazy trade offs in my life to suit my ethical quirks–I buy nearly all my clothes and shoes used so I can afford $30 a piece organic underwear. I don’t have a tv or cable but I didn’t snoop too much into where my shiny new Mac was made and by whom. If I think about it too long, I can get really nuts.

      But I’ll try to do the best I can, face my decisions, and keep going.

  3. We’re lucky in that in our area there aren’t pet store chains that sell puppies or kittens, so shopping ethically for the dogs isn’t too tough for us. As for being able to shop ethically for other stuff that we need, that’s a lot harder. I hate what stores like Wal-Mart have done to our ability to have choices about where to shop and the limited options that we get there. In the summer, shopping for food and other stuff isn’t a problem, we have wonderful farmer’s markets around here that offer wonderful options, but it’s tough this time of year!

    • You make a good point about choices. As I look at the hundreds of options (say in the toothpaste aisle of the supermarket), I think we have lots of choices–all of them bad.

      In Sweden, you can choose between two cars–an Audi and a Saab. Not bad, huh?

      Maybe we need to start a blog on eating well in the winter. It sounds like I’m not the only one who suffers when the last of the fall lettuce goes away.


  1. […] Aleksandra of Love and a Six-Foot Leash left some thoughtful comments about becoming a vegan on my post about Ethical Purchasing that was another inspiration for writing this post. Are there other vegans reading? What led you to […]