"The ethical decision is always the fearsome decision. When something matters enough that we are afraid of the consequences–afraid that even the honorable choice could result in harm or loss or sorrow–that’s when ethics are involved."
Henry W. Bloch, The Importance of Ethics

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Clear Information Unavailable

"Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers."
–Ray Bradbury

I'm finding that this blog is going to be harder to write than I initially anticipated. Partly because good information is harder to find than I had hoped.

In my internet searches for a magical list that would break down which companies are "good" and which companies are "bad," I have found very little. One company I researched showed up on both a list of "Most Ethical" companies in America and a list of companies to avoid for unethical practices.

I found what almost appears to be a good website for what I'm looking for called Ethical Consumer. This website actually allows you to explore company ethics using five different scales that you can adjust depending on how important each category is for you. Categories include: Environment, Animals, People, Politics, and Product sustainability. The website provides detailed information about why companies are or are not ethical based on these scales-- just what I've been looking for, but...

Ethical Consumer is based in the UK and analyzes mostly companies based in the UK, thus making it impractical for my concerns, especially considering that one can only access their information through paid membership to the site. As much as I believe that information regarding ethical consumerism is valuable, I can't help questioning how ethical it is to put a price on ethics. What are they getting at here? Maybe its simply a basic need for funding in order to gather information... but it's striking how rich some non-profit CEOs can get.

All I have been able to gather so far is that if a company actually uses ethical practices, it will probably advertise the hell out of how ethical it is. If a company isn't advertising how ethical it is, it probably isn't very ethical. Even companies that advertise themselves as ethical often fall short of what we'd like them to be. As far as my primary ethical concern, fair human labor practices, I gather that the safest bets are products grown or made in countries with laws protecting laborers and, for those of us lucky enough to live in farm states, local farmer's markets.

I've found very little in my search for proof that some of my favorite products and chain restaurants are ethical businesses. If I'm really going to make the life-change to eat and shop ethically, I suspect that there will be certain things that I will just have to go without.