The Ethics Behind Ethix
What does it mean to be a responsible consumer?
These days, most Americans seem to understand that their decisions about what to buy can have a big impact on people and on the environment. Ironically, this increased consciousness and desire to be part of something good (or to not be a part of something bad) has made it harder to do the right thing, not easier.
This is because Greenwashing and Bluewashing are everywhere in this economy. In response to a growing desire among groups and individuals to be conscious consumers and reduce their ecological footprint, companies have become very adept at playing up their do-gooder images, often in ways that exaggerate the good and simply ignore the bad. Faced with impressive sounding programs and certifications, busy consumers find it understandably difficult to cut through the marketing tactics to understand what kind of impact their purchase is really having.
For us at Ethix, being ethical has to start with honesty and transparency
Even though this can lead to a level of information-sharing that might be a turn-off for some customers, we’d much rather err on the side of saying too much about ethics, rather than too little. After all, if our economy is going to start working for everyone – not just multinational corporations and their shareholders – it’s going to require more curiosity and engagement on the part of consumers. Our job is to make that easier to do.
We invite our clients to come on a journey with us that frequently can’t be reduced to “ethical” vs. “unethical.”
Let’s take the example of the bestselling promotional product in the world: the t-shirt. It’s frequently overlooked by both brands and consumers that only the final step in the process (what’s called the cut/sew) determines whether the item is labeled as Union Made, Made in USA,“worker-owned,” or imported. In fact, t-shirts (just like most other products) have an extensive supply chain, each stage of which has its own ethical implications.
What happens before the final cut/sew stage on a t-shirt is equally important to the ethical footprint of the finished product:
• Where was the cotton grown?
• Where was the cotton ginned, and then spun into yarn, and then turned into fabric?
• After the cut/sew is complete, where are the shirts going to be printed with your organization’s custom design?
• Taking into consideration the impact of production, waste and transit at each of these steps in the supply chain, what’s the final contribution to carbon emissions and water usage?
• And how are the workers faring at each of these stages?
The answers to these questions are not easy to calculate, even for us.
Despite our hard work and best intentions, it’s unfortunately true that we can’t yet stay in business while only offering items that are union made, worker-owned, and environmentally sustainable throughout the entire supply chain. It’s impossible for us to uphold our first ethic of transparency without acknowledging that fact.
What we have committed to is not to offer products that are produced mainly outside the US or Canada, unless certified Fair Trade.
In the end, the “ethics of Ethix” means being crystal clear about our intention to offer products that are sustainable and good for workers at every level of production, while never pretending that we’re further along toward that goal than we actually are.
Ask us anything!
We invite you to ask as many questions as you’d like about the products we offer. On our end, we promise to be straightforward in our answers to these questions, and to find out the answer to whatever we don’t know.
We will also never stop encouraging you, our valued client, to consider people and planet along with budget and quality, whenever it’s time to order custom-printed giveaways for your fans, members and events. And we will help you tell the authentic, positive and meaningful stories behind your ethical decisions, because there’s nothing wrong with taking a little credit for doing the right thing!